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Copyright © 1956 by Erich Fromm 

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World Perspectives 




Is Love an Art? 


The Theory of Love 


1. Love, the Answer to the Problem of 


Human Existence 

2. Love Between Parent and Child 

3. The Objects of Love 

a. Brotherly Love 

b. Motherly Love 

c. Erotic Love 

d. Self-Love 

e. Love of God 

Love and Its Disintegration in Contem- 

porary Western Society 


The Practice of Love 



World Perspectives 

WORLD PERSPECTIVES is dedicated to the concept of 
man born out of a universe perceived through a fresh vision 
of reality. Its aim is to present short books written by the 
most conscious and responsible minds of today. Each volume 
represents the thought and belief of each author and sets 
forth the interrelation of the changing religious, scientific, 
artistic, political, economic and social influences upon man's 
total experience. 

This Series is committed to a re-examination of all those 
sides of human endeavor which the specialist was taught to 
believe he could safely leave aside. It interprets present and 
past events impinging on human life in our growing World 
Age and envisages what man may yet attain when sum- 
moned by an unbending inner necessity to the quest of what 
is most exalted in him. Its purpose is to offer new vistas in 
terms of world and human development while refusing to 
betray the intimate correlation between universality and in- 
dividuality, dynamics and form, freedom and destiny. Each 
author treats his subject from the broad perspective of the 
world community, not from the Judaeo-Christian, Western 
or Eastern viewpoint alone. 

Certain fundamental questions which have received too 
little consideration in the face of the spiritual, moral and 
political world crisis of our day, and in the light of technology 


which has released the creative energies of peoples, are 
treated in these books. Our authors deal with the increas- 
ing realization that spirit and nature are not separate and 
apart; that intuition and reason must regain their importance 
as the means of perceiving and fusing inner being with outer 

World Perspectives endeavors to show that the conception 
of wholeness, unity, organism is a higher and more concrete 
conception than that of matter and energy. Thus it would 
seem that science itself must ultimately pursue the aim of in- 
terpreting the physical world of matter and energy in terms 
of the biological conception of organism. An enlarged mean- 
ing of life, of biology, not as it is revealed in the test tube of 
the laboratory but) as it is experienced within the organism 
of life itself is attempted in this Series. For the principle of 
life consists in the tension which connects spirit with the 
realm of matted. The element of life is dominant in the very 
texture q£ nature, thus rendering life, biology, a transem- 
pirical science. The laws of life have their origin beyond their 
mere physical manifestations and compel us to consider their 
spiritual source. In fact, the widening of the conceptual 
framework has not only^served to restore order within the 
respective branches of knowledge, but has also disclosed 
analogies in man's position regarding the analysis and syn- 
thesis of experience in apparently separated domains of 
knowledge suggesting the possibility of an ever more embrac- 
ing objective description of the meaning of life. 

Knowledge, it is shown in these books, no longer consists 
in a manipulation of mstn and nature as opposite forces, nor 
in the reduction of data to mere statistical order, but is a 


means of liberating mankind from the destructive power of 
fear, pointing the way toward the goal of the rehabilitation 
of the human will and the rebirth of faith and confidence in 
the human person. The works published also endeavor to 
reveal that the cry for patterns, systems and authorities is 
growing less insistent as the desire grows stronger in both 
East and West for the recovery of a dignity, integrity and 
self-realization which are the inalienable rights of man who 
may now guide change by means of conscious purpose in the 
light of rational experience. 

Other vital questions explored relate to problems of inter- 
national understanding as well as to problems dealing with 
prejudice and the resultant tensions and antagonisms. The 
growing perception and responsibility of our World Age 
point to the new reality that the individual person and the 
collective person supplement and integrate each other; that 
the thrall of totalitarianism of both right and left has been 
shaken in the universal desire to recapture the authority of 
truth and of human totality. Mankind can finally place its 
trust not in a proletarian authoritarianism, not in a secular- 
ized humanism, both of which have betrayed the spiritual 
property right of history, but in a sacramental brotherhood 
and in the unity of knowledge. This new consciousness has 
created a widening of human horizons beyond every paro- 
chialism, and a revolution in human thought comparable to 
the basic assumption, among the ancient Greeks, of the 
sovereignty of reason; corresponding to the great effulgence 
of the moral conscience articulated by the Hebrew prophets; 
analogous to the fundamental assertions of Christianity; or 
to the beginning of a new scientific era, the era of the science 


of dynamics, the experimental foundations of which were 
laid by Galileo in the Renaissance. 

An important effort of this Series is to re-examine the 
contradictory meanings and applications which are given 
today to such terms as democracy, freedom, justice, love, 
peace, brotherhood and God. The purpose of such inquiries 
is to clear the way for the foundation of a genuine world 
history not in terms of nation or race or culture but in terms 
of man in relation to God, to himself, his fellow man and 
the universe that reach beyond immediate self-interest. For 
the meaning of the World Age consists in respecting man's 
hopes and dreams which lead to a deeper understanding of 
the basic values of all peoples. 

Today in the East and in the West men are discovering 
that they are bound together, beyond any divisiveness, by a 
more fundamental unity than any mere agreement in thought 
and doctrine. They are beginning to know that all men 
possess the same primordial desires and tendencies; that the 
domination of man over man can no longer be justified by 
any appeal to God or nature; and such consciousness is the 
fruit of the spiritual and moral revolution, the great seismic 
upheaval, through which humanity is now passing. 

World Perspectives is planned to gain insight into the 
meaning of man, who not only is determined by history but 
who also determines history. History is to be understood as 
concerned not only with the life of man on this planet but 
as including also such cosmic influences as interpenetrate our 
human world. 

This generation is discovering that history does not con- 
form to the social optimism of modern civilization and that 


the organization of human communities and the establish- 
ment of justice, freedom and peace are not only intellectual 
achievements but spiritual and moral achievements as well, 
demanding a cherishing of the wholeness of human person- 
ality and constituting a never-ending challenge to man, 
emerging from the abyss of meaninglessness and suffering, to 
be renewed and replenished in the totality of his life. "For 
as one's thinking is, such one becomes, and it is because of 
this that thinking should be purified and transformed, for 
were it centered upon truth as it is now upon things per- 
ceptible to the senses, who would not be liberated from his 
bondage. 9 ' * 

There is in mankind today a counterforce to the sterility 
and danger of a quantitative, anonymous mass culture, a 
new, if sometimes imperceptible, spiritual sense of conver- 
gence toward world unity on the basis of the sacredness of 
each human person and respect for the plurality of cultures. 
There is a growing awareness that equality and justice are 
not to be evaluated in mere numerical terms but that they 
are proportionate and analogical in their reality. 

We stand at the brink of the age of the world in which 
human life presses forward to actualize new forms. The false 
separation of man and nature, of time and space, of free- 
dom and security, is acknowledged and we are faced with a 
new vision of man in his organic unity and of history offer- 
ing a richness and diversity of quality and majesty of scope 
hitherto unprecedented. In relating the accumulated wisdom 
of man's spirit to the new reality of the World Age, in 
articulating its thought and belief, World Perspectives seeks 

* Mditri Upanishad 6.34.4. 6, 


to encourage a renaissance of hope in society and of pride 
in man's decision as to what his destiny will be. 

The vast extension of knowledge has led to a diminution 
of consciousness as a result of the tendency, due to some 
modern interpretations of science, to accept as the total truth 
only limited descriptions of truth. The triumphant advance 
of science, culminating in new realities concerning the sub- 
atomic world and overthrowing traditional assumptions of 
causality and uniformity, has almost succeeded in enfeebling 
man's faith in his spiritual and moral worth and in his own 
significance in the cosmic scheme. The experience of dread, 
into which contemporary man has been plunged through his 
failure to transcend his existential limits, is the experience of 
the problem of whether he shall attain to being through the 
knowledge of himself or shall not, whether he shall annihilate 
nothingness or whether nothingness shall annihilate him. 
For he has been forced back to his origins as a result of the 
atrophy of meaning, and his anabasis may begin once more 
through his mysterious greatness to re-create his life. 

The suffering and hope of this century have their origin 
in the interior drama in which the spirit is thrust as a result 
of the split within itself, and in the invisible forces which are 
born in the heart and mind of man. This suffering and this 
hope arise also from material problems, economic, political, 
technological. History itself is not a mere mechanical unfold- 
ing of events in the center of which man finds himself as a 
stranger in a foreign land. The specific modern emphasis on 
history as progressive, the specific prophetic emphasis on 
God as acting through history, and the specific Christian 
emphasis on the historical nature of revelation must now 


surrender to the new history embracing the new cosmology — 
a profound event which is in the process of birth in the 
womb of that invisible universe which is the mind and heart 
of man. For our World Age is indeed the most dire and 
apocalyptic mankind has ever faced in all history, and the 
endeavor of World Perspectives is to point to that ultimate 
moral power at work in the universe, that very power upon 
which all human effort must at last depend. 

This is the crisis in consciousness made articulate through 
the crisis in science. This is the new awakening after a long 
history which had its genesis in Descartes' denial that theol- 
ogy could exist as a science, on the one hand, and on the 
other, in Kant's denial that metaphysics could exist as a 
science. Some fossilized forms of such positivistic thinking 
still remain, manifesting themselves in a quasi-sociological 
mythology which, in the guise of scientific concepts, has gen- 
erated a new animism resulting in a more primitive religion 
than the traditional faiths which it endeavors to replace. 
However, it is now conceded, out of the influences of White- 
head, Bergson and some phenomenologists that in addition 
to natural science with its tendency to isolate quantitative 
values there exists another category of knowledge wherein 
philosophy, utilizing its own instruments, is able to grasp 
the essence and innermost nature of the Absolute, of reality. 
The mysterious universe is now revealing to philosophy and 
to science as well an enlarged meaning of nature and of 
man which extends beyond mathematical and experimental 
analysis of sensory phenomena. This meaning reiects tht> 


of mythology adequate only for the satisfaction of emotional 
needs. In other words, the fundamental problems of philos- 
ophy, those problems which are central to life, are again 
confronting science and philosophy itself. Our problem is to 
discover a principle of differentiation and yet relationship 
lucid enough to justify and to purify both scientific and 
philosophical knowledge by accepting their mutual inter- 

Justice itself which has been "in a state of pilgrimage and 
crucifixion" and now is slowly being liberated from the grip 
of social and political demonologies in the East as well as in 
the West, begins to question its own premises. Those modern 
revolutionary movements which have challenged the sacred 
institutions of society by protecting social injustice in the 
name of social justice are also being examined and re- 
evaluated in World Perspectives. 

When we turn our gaze retrospectively to the early cosmic 
condition of man in the third millennium, we observe that 
the concept of justice as something to which man has an in- 
alienable right began slowly to take form and, at the time of 
Hammurabi in the second millennium, justice as inherently 
a part of man's nature and not as a beneficent gift to be 
bestowed, became part of the consciousness of society. This 
concept of human rights consisted in the demand for justice 
in the universe, a demand which exists also in the twentieth 
century through a curious analogy. In accordance with the 
ancient view, man could himself become a god, could assume 
the identity of the great cosmic forces in the universe which 
surrounded him. He could influence this universe, not by 
supplication, but by action. And now again this consciousness 


of man's harmonious relationship with the universe, with 
society and with his fellow men, can be actualized, and again 
not through supplication but through the deed. 

Though never so powerful materially and technologically, 
Western democracy, with its concern for the sacredness of 
the human person gone astray, has never before been so 
seriously threatened, morally and spiritually. National se- 
curity and individual freedom are in ominous conflict. The 
possibility of a universal community and the technique of 
degradation exist side by side. There is no doubt that evil is 
accumulated among men in their passionate desire for unity. 
And yet, confronted with this evil which had split, isolated 
and killed the living reality, confronted with death, man, 
from the very depths of his soul, cries out for "the un- 
mediated whole of feeling and thought" and for the possi- 
bility to reassemble the fragments, to restore unity through 
justice. Christianity in history could only reply to this protest 
against evil by the Annunciation of the Kingdom, by the 
promise of Eternal Life — which demanded faith. But the 
spiritual and moral suffering of man had exhausted his faith 
and his hope. He was left alone. His suffering remained un- 

However, man has now reached the last extremity of 
denigration. He yearns to consecrate himself. And so, among 
the spiritual and moral ruins of the West and of the East a 
renaissance is prepared beyond the limits of nihilism, dark- 
ness and despair. In the depths of the Western and Eastern 
spiritual night, civilization with its many faces turning to- 
ward its source may rekindle its light in an imminent new 
dawn — even as in the last book of Revelation which speaks 


of a Second Coming with a new heaven, a new earth and a 
new religious quality of life. 

And I saw a new heaven and a new 
earth: for the first heaven and the 
first earth were passed away. . . .* 

In spite of the infinite obligation of men and in spite of 
their finite power, in spite of the intransigence of national- 
isms, and in spite of spiritual bereavement and moral am- 
nesia, beneath the apparent turmoil and upheaval of the 
present, and out of the transformations of this dynamic 
period with the unfolding of a world-consciousness, the pur- 
pose of World Perspectives is to help quicken the "unshaken 
heart of well-rounded truth' 5 and interpret the significant 
elements of the World Age now taking shape out of the core 
of that undimmed continuity of the creative process which 
restores man to mankind while deepening and enhancing his 
communion with the universe. 

New York, 1956 Ruth Nanda Anshen 

♦Revelation, 21:1. 


THE READING of this book would be a disappointing ex- 
perience for anyone who expects easy instruction in the art 
of loving. This book, on the contrary, wants to show that 
love is not a sentiment which can be easily indulged in by 
anyone, regardless of the level of maturity reached by him. 
It wants to convince the reader that all his attempts for love 
are bound to fail, unless he tries most actively to develop 
his total personality, so as to achieve a productive orienta- 
tion; that satisfaction in individual love cannot be attained 
without the capacity to love one's neighbor, without true 
humility, courage, faith and discipline. In a culture in which 
these qualities are rare, the attainment of the capacity to 
love must remain a rare achievement. Or — anyone can ask 
himself how many truly loving persons he has known. 

Yet, the difficulty of the task must not be a reason to 
abstain from trying to know the difficulties as well as the 
conditions for its achievement. To avoid unnecessary com- 
plications I have tried to deal with the problem in a language 
which is non-technical as far as this is possible. For the same 
reason I have also kept to a minimum references to the 
literature on love. 

For another problem I did not find a completely satisfac- 
tory solution; that, namely, of avoiding repetition of ideas 
expressed in previous books of mine. The reader familiar, 


especially, with Escape from Freedom, Man for Himself, 
and The Sane Society, will find in this book many ideas ex- 
pressed in these previous works. However, The Art of Loving 
is by no means mainly a recapitulation. It presents many 
ideas beyond the previously expressed ones, and quite nat- 
urally even older ones sometimes gain new perspectives by 
the fact that they are all centered around one topic, that 
of the art of loving. 

E. F. 

He who knows nothing, loves nothing. He who 
can do nothing understands nothing. He who 
understands nothing is worthless. But he who 
understands also loves, notices, sees. . . . The 
more knowledge is inherent in a thing, the 
greater the love. . . . Anyone who imagines 
that all fruits ripen at the same time as the 
strawberries knows nothing about grapes. 


Is Love an Art? 

IS LOVE an art? Then it requires knowledge and effort. Or 
is love a pleasant sensation, which to experience is a matter 
of chance, something one "falls into' 5 if one is lucky? This 
little book is based on the former premise, while undoubtedly 
the majority of people today believe in the latter. 

Not that people think that love is not important. They are 
starved for it; they watch endless numbers of films about 
happy and unhappy love stories, they listen to hundreds of 
trashy songs about love — yet hardly anyone thinks that there 
is anything that needs to be learned about love. 

This peculiar attitude is based on several premises which 
either singly or combined tend to uphold it. Most people see 
the problem of love primarily as that of being loved, rather 
than that of loving, of one's capacity to love. Hence the 
problem to them is how to be loved, how to be lovable. In 
pursuit of this aim they follow several paths. One, which is 
especially used by men, is to be successful, to be as powerful 
and rich as the social margin of one's position permits. An- 
other, used especially by women, is to make oneself attrac- 
tive, by cultivating one's body, dress, etc. Other ways of 


making oneself attractive, used both by men and women, are 
to develop pleasant manners, interesting conversation, to be 
helpful, modest, inoffensive. Many of the ways to make 
oneself lovable are the same as those used to make one- 
self successful, "to win friends and influence people." As 
a matter of fact, what most people in our culture mean by 
being lovable is essentially a mixture between being popular 
and having sex appeal. 

A second premise behind the attitude that there is nothing 
to be learned about love is the assumption that the problem 
of love is the problem of an object, not the problem of a 
faculty. People think that to love is simple, but that to find 
the right object to love — or to be loved by — is difficult. This 
attitude has several reasons rooted in the development of 
modern society. One reason is the great change which oc- 
curred in the twentieth century with respect to the choice 
of a "love object." In the Victorian age, as in many tradi- 
tional cultures, love was mostly not a spontaneous personal 
experience which then might lead to marriage. On the con- 
trary, marriage was contracted by convention — either by the 
respective families, or by a marriage broker, or without the 
help of such intermediaries; it was concluded on the basis of 
social considerations, and love was supposed to develop once 
the marriage had been concluded. In the last few generations 
the concept of romantic love has become almost universal 
in the Western world. In the United States, while considera- 
tions of a conventional nature are not entirely absent, to a 
vast extent people are in search of "romantic love," of the 
personal experience of love which then should lead to mar- 
riage. This new concept of freedom in love must have greatly 


enhanced the importance of the object as against the im- 
portance of the function. 

Closely related to this factor is another feature charac- 
teristic of contemporary culture. Our whole culture is based 
on the appetite for buying, on the idea of a mutually favor- 
able exchange. Modern man's happiness consists in the thrill 
of looking at the shop windows, and in buying all that he 
can afford to buy, either for cash or on installments. He (or 
she) looks at people in a similar way. For the man an attrac- 
tive girl — and for the woman an attractive man — are the 
prizes they are after. "Attractive* 5 usually means a nice pack- 
age of qualities which are popular and sought after on the 
personality market. What specifically makes a person attrac- 
tive depends on the fashion of the time, physically as well as 
mentally. During the twenties, a drinking and smoking girl, 
tough and sexy, was attractive; today the fashion demands 
more domesticity and coyness. At the end of the nineteenth 
and the beginning of this century, a man had to be aggres- 
sive and ambitious — today he has to be social and tolerant — 
in order to be an attractive "package." At any rate, the sense 
of falling in love develops usually only with regard to such 
human commodities as are within reach of one's own possi- 
bilities for exchange. I am out for a bargain; the object should 
be desirable from the standpoint of its social value, and at the 
same time should want me, considering my overt and hidden 
assets and potentialities. Two persons thus fall in love when 
they feel they have found the best object available on the 
market, considering the limitations of their own exchange 
values. Often, as in buying real estate, the hidden potentiali- 
ties which can be developed play a considerable role in this 


bargain. In a culture in which the marketing orientation 
prevails, and in which material success is the outstanding 
value, there is little reason to be surprised that human love 
relations follow the same pattern of exchange which governs 
the commodity and the labor market. 

The third error leading to the assumption that there is 
nothing to be learned about love lies in the confusion between 
the initial experience of "falling" in love, and the permanent 
state of being in love, or as we might better say, of "stand- 
ing" in love. If two people who have been strangers, as all 
of us are, suddenly let the wall between them break down, 
and feel close, feel one, this moment of oneness is one of the 
most exhilarating, most exciting experiences in life. It is all 
the more wonderful and miraculous for persons who have 
been shut off, isolated, without love. This miracle of sudden 
intimacy is often facilitated if it is combined with, or initiated 
by, sexual attraction and consummation. However, this type 
of love is by its very nature not lasting. The two persons 
become well acquainted, their intimacy loses more and more 
its miraculous character, until their antagonism, their disap- 
pointments, their mutual boredom kill whatever is left of the 
initial excitement. Yet, in the beginning they do not know 
all this: in fact, they take the intensity of the infatuation, 
this being "crazy" about each other, for proof of the in- 
tensity of their love, while it may only prove the degree of 
their preceding loneliness. 

This attitude — that nothing is easier than to love — has 
continued to be the prevalent idea about love in spite of the 
overwhelming evidence to the contrary. There is hardly any 
activity, any enterprise, which is started with such tremen- 


dous hopes and expectations, and yet, which fails so regu- 
larly, as love. If this were the case with any other activity, 
people would be eager to know the reasons for the failure, 
and to learn how one could do better — or they would give 
up the activity. Since the latter is impossible in the case of 
love, there seems to be only one adequate w r ay to overcome 
the failure of love — to examine the reasons for this failure, 
and to proceed to study the meaning of love. 

The first step to take is to become aware that love is an 
art, just as living is an art; if we want to learn how to love 
we must proceed in the same way we have to proceed if we 
want to learn any other art, say music, painting, carpentry, 
or the art of medicine or engineering. 

What are the necessary steps in learning any art? 

The process of learning an art can be divided conveniently 
into two parts: one, the mastery of the theory; the other, 
the mastery of the practice. If I want to learn the art of 
medicine, I must first know the facts about the human body, 
and about various diseases. When I have all this theoretical 
knowledge, I am by no means competent in the art of medi- 
cine. I shall become a master in this art only after a great 
deal of practice, until eventually the results of my theoretical 
knowledge and the results of my practice are blended into 
one — my intuition, the essence of the mastery of any art. 
But, aside from learning the theory and practice, there is a 
third factor necessary to becoming a master in any art — the 
mastery of the art must be a matter of ultimate concern; 
there must be nothing else in the world more important than 
the art. This holds true for music, for medicine, for car- 
pentry—and for love. And, maybe, here lies the answer to 


the question of why people in our culture try so rarely to 
learn this art, in spite of their obvious failures: in spite of 
the deep-seated craving for love, almost everything else is 
considered to be more important than love : success, prestige, 
money, power — almost all our energy is used for the learn- 
ing of how to achieve these aims, and almost none to learn 
the art of loving. 

Could it be that only those things are considered worthy 
of being learned with which one can earn money or prestige, 
and that love, which "only 55 profits the soul, but is profitless 
in the modern sense, is a luxury we have no right to spend 
much energy on? However this may be, the following discus- 
sion will treat the art of loving in the sense of the foregoing 
divisions: first I shall discuss the theory of love — and this 
will comprise the greater part of the book; and secondly I 
shall discuss the practice of love — little as can be said about 
practice in this, as in any other field. 


The Theory of Love 


ANY THEORY of love must begin with a theory of man, 
of human existence. While we find love, or rather, the 
equivalent of love, in animals, their attachments are mainly 
a part of their instinctual equipment; only remnants of this 
instinctual equipment can be seen operating in man. What 
is essential in the existence of man is the fact that he has 
emerged from the animal kingdom, from instinctive adapta- 
tion, that he has transcended nature — although he never 
leaves it; he is a part of it — and yet once torn away from 
nature, he cannot return to it; once thrown out of para- 
dise — a state of original oneness with nature — cherubim with 
flaming swords block his way, if he should try to return. 
Man can only go forward by developing his reason, by find- 
ing a new harmony, a human one, instead of the prehuman 
harmony which is irretrievably lost. 

When man is born, the human race as well as the indi- 
vidual, he is thrown out of a situation which was definite, as 



definite as the instincts, into a situation which is indefinite, 
uncertain and open. There is certainty only about the past — 
and about the future only as far as that it is death. 

Man is gifted with reason; he is life being aware of itself; 
he has awareness of himself, of his fellow man, of his past, 
and of the possibilities of his future. This awareness of him- 
self as a separate entity, the awareness of his own short life 
span, of the fact that without his will he is born and against 
his will he dies, that he will die before those whom he loves, 
or they before him, the awareness of his aloneness and sepa- 
rateness, of his helplessness before the forces of nature and 
of society, all this makes his separate, disunited existence an 
unbearable prison. He would become insane could he not 
liberate himself from this prison and reach out, unite himself 
in some form or other with men, with the world outside. 

The experience of separateness arouses anxiety; it is, in- 
deed, the source of all anxiety. Being separate means being 
cut off, without any capacity to use my human powers. 
Hence to be separate means to be helpless, unable to grasp 
the world — things and people — actively; it means that the 
world can invade me without my ability to react. Thus, sepa- 
rateness is the source of intense anxiety. Beyond that, it 
arouses shame and the feeling of guilt. This experience of 
guilt and shame in separateness is expressed in the Biblical 
story of Adam and Eve. After Adam and Eve have eaten of 
the "tree of knowledge of good and evil," after they have 
disobeyed (there is no good and evil unless there is freedom 
to disobey), after they have become human by having eman- 
cipated themselves from the original animal harmony with 
nature, i.e., after their birth as human beings — they saw 


"that they were naked — and they were ashamed." Should 
we assume that a myth as old and elementary as this has 
the prudish morals of the nineteenth-century outlook, and 
that the important point the story wants to convey to us is 
the embarrassment that their genitals were visible? This can 
hardly be so, and by understanding the story in a Victorian 
spirit, we miss the main point, which seems to be the follow- 
ing: after man and woman have become aware of them- 
selves and of each other, they are aware of their separateness, 
and of their difference, inasmuch as they belong to different 
sexes. But while recognizing their separateness they remain 
strangers, because they have not yet learned to love each 
other (as is also made very clear by the fact that Adam 
defends himself by blaming Eve, rather than by trying to 
defend her). The awareness of human separation, without 
reunion by love — is the source of shame. It is at the same 
time the source of guilt and anxiety. 

The deepest need of man, then, is the need to overcome 
his separateness, to leave the prison of his aloneness. The 
absolute failure to achieve this aim means insanity, because 
the panic of complete isolation can be overcome only by such 
a radical withdrawal from the world outside that the feeling 
of separation disappears — because the world outside, from 
which one is separated, has disappeared. 

Man — of all ages and cultures — is confronted with the 
solution of one and the same question: the question of how 
to overcome separateness, how to achieve union, how to tran- 
scend one's own individual life and find at-onement. The 
question is the same for primitive man living in caves, for 
nomadic man taking care of his flocks, for the peasant in 


Egypt, the Phoenician trader, the Roman soldier, the medie- 
val monk, the Japanese samurai, the modern clerk and fac- 
tory hand. The question is the same, for it springs from 
the same ground: the human situation, the conditions of 
human existence. The answer varies. The question can be 
answered by animal worship, by human sacrifice or mili- 
tary conquest, by indulgence in luxury, by ascetic renuncia- 
tion, by obsessional work, by artistic creation, by the love of 
God, and by the love of Man. While there are many answers 
— the record of which is human history— they are neverthe- 
less not innumerable. On the contrary, as soon as one ignores 
smaller differences which belong more to the periphery than 
to the center, one discovers that there is only a limited num- 
ber of answers which have been given, and only could have 
been given by man in the various cultures in which he has 
lived. The history of religion and philosophy is the history of 
these answers, of their diversity, as well as of their limitation 
in number. 

The answers depend, to some extent, on the degree of 
individuation which an individual has reached. In the infant 
I-ness has developed but little yet; he still feels one with 
mother, has no feeling of separateness as long as mother is 
present. Its sense of aloneness is cured by the physical pres- 
ence of the mother, her breasts, her skin. Only to the degree 
that the child develops his sense of separateness and individ- 
uality is the physical presence of the mother not sufficient 
any more, and does the need to overcome separateness in 
other ways arise. 

Similarly, the human race in its infancy still feels one with 
nature. The soil, the animals, the plants are still man's world. 


He identifies himself with animals, and this is expressed by 
the wearing of animal masks, by the worshiping of a totem 
animal or animal gods. But the more the human race emerges 
from these primary bonds, the more it separates itself from 
the natural world, the more intense becomes the need to find 
new ways of escaping separateness. 

One way of achieving this aim lies in all kinds of orgiastic 
states. These may have the form of an auto-induced trance, 
sometimes with the help of drugs. Many rituals of primitive 
tribes offer a vivid picture of this type of solution. In a transi- 
tory state of exaltation the world outside disappears, and 
with it the feeling of separateness from it. Inasmuch as these 
rituals are practiced in common, an experience of fusion with 
the group is added which makes this solution all the more 
effective. Closely related to, and often blended with this 
orgiastic solution, is the sexual experience. The sexual orgasm 
can produce a state similar to the one produced by a trance, 
or to the effects of certain drugs. Rites of communal sexual 
orgies were a part of many primitive rituals. It seems that 
after the orgiastic experience, man can go on for a time 
without suffering too much from his separateness. Slowly the 
tension of anxiety mounts, and then is reduced again by the 
repeated performance of the ritual. 

As long as these orgiastic states are a matter of common 
practice in a tribe, they do not produce anxiety or guilt. To 
act in this way is right, and even virtuous, because it is a 
way shared by all, approved and demanded by the medicine 
men or priests; hence there is no reason to feel guilty or 
ashamed. It is quite different when the same solution is 
chosen by an individual in a culture which has left behind 


these common practices. Alcoholism and drug addiction are 
the forms which the individual chooses in a non-orgiastic 
culture. In contrast to those participating in the socially pat- 
terned solution, such individuals suffer from guilt feelings 
and remorse. While they try to escape from separateness by 
taking refuge in alcohol or drugs, they feel all the more sepa- 
rate after the orgiastic experience is over, and thus are driven 
to take recourse to it with increasing frequency and intensity. 
Slightly different from this is the recourse to a sexual orgiastic 
solution. To some extent it is a natural and normal form of 
overcoming separateness, and a partial answer to the problem 
of isolation. But in many individuals in whom separateness is 
not relieved in other ways, the search for the sexual orgasm 
assumes a function which makes it not very different from 
alcoholism and drug addiction. It becomes a desperate at- 
tempt to escape the anxiety engendered by separateness, and 
it results in an ever-increasing sense of separateness, since the 
sexual act without love never bridges the gap between two 
human beings, except momentarily. 

All forms of orgiastic union have three characteristics: 
they are intense, even violent; they occur in the total per- 
sonality, mind and body; they are transitory and periodical. 
Exactly the opposite holds true for that form of union which 
is by far the most frequent solution chosen by man in the 
past and in the present : the union based on conformity with 
the group, its customs, practices and beliefs. Here again we 
find a considerable development. 

In a primitive society the group is small; it consists of 
those with whom one shares blood and soil. With the grow- 
ing development of culture, the group enlarges; it becomes 


the citizenry of a polls 3 the citizenry of a large state, the 
j members of a church. Even the poor Roman felt pride 
(because he could say "clvls romanus sum"; Rome and the 
j fimpire were his family, his home, his world. Also in con- 
temporary Western society the union with the group is the 
prevalent way of overcoming separateness. It is a union in 
which the individual self disappears to a large extent, and 
where the aim is to belong to the herd. If I am like every- 
body else, if I have no feelings or thoughts which make me 
different, if I conform in custom, dress, ideas, to the pattern 
of the group, I am saved; saved from the frightening experi- 
ence of aloneness. The dictatorial systems use threats and 
terror to induce this conformity; the democratic countries, 
suggestion and propaganda. There is, indeed, one great dif- 
ference between the two systems. In the democracies non- 
conformity is possible and, in fact, by no means entirely 
absent; in the totalitarian systems, only a few unusual heroes 
| and martyrs can be expected to refuse obedience. But in spite 
1 of this difference the democratic societies show an over- 
| whelming degree of conformity. The reason lies in the fact 
I that there has to be an answer to the quest for union, and if 
[(there is no other or better way, then the union of herd con- 
; formity becomes the predominant one. One can only under- 
stand the power of the fear to be different, the fear to be only 
a few steps away from the herd, if one understands the depths 
of the need not to be separated. Sometimes this fear of non- 
conformity is rationalized as fear of practical dangers which 
could threaten the non-conformist. But actually, people want 
to conform to a much higher degree than they are forced to 
conform, at least in the Western democracies. 


Most people are not even aware of their need to conform. 
They live under the illusion that they follow their own ideas 
and inclinations, that they are individualists, that they have 
arrived at their opinions as the result of their own thinking — 
and that it just happens that their ideas are the same as those 
of the majority. The consensus of all serves as a proof for the 
correctness of "their" ideas. Since there is still a need to feel 
some individuality, such need is satisfied with regard to minor 
differences; the initials on the handbag or the sweater, the 
name plate of the bank teller, the belonging to the Democratic 
as against the Republican party, to the Elks instead of to the 
Shriners become the expression of individual differences. The 
advertising slogan of "it is different" shows up this pathetic 
need for difference, when in reality there is hardly any left. 

This increasing tendency for the elimination of differences 
is closely related to the concept and the experience of equal- 
ity, as it is developing in the most advanced industrial 
societies. Equality had meant, in a religious context, that we 
are all God's children, that we all share in the same human- 
divine substance, that we are all one. It meant also that the 
very differences between individuals must be respected, that 
while it is true that we are all one, it is also true that each 
one of us is a unique entity, is a cosmos by itself. Such con- 
viction of the uniqueness of the individual is expressed for 
instance in the Talmudic statement: "Whosoever saves a 
single life is as if he had saved the whole world; whosoever 
destroys a single life is as if he had destroyed the whole 
world." Equality as a condition for the development of in- 
dividuality was also the meaning of the concept in the 
philosophy of the Western Enlightenment. It meant (most 


clearly formulated by Kant) that no man must be the means 
for the ends of another man. That all men are equal inas- 
much as they are ends, and only ends, and never means to 
each other. Following the ideas of the Enlightenment, Social- 
ist thinkers of various schools defined equality as abolition of 
exploitation, of the use of man by man, regardless of whether 
this use were cruel or "human." 

In contemporary capitalistic society the meaning of equal- 
ity has been transformed. By equality one refers to the 
equality of automatons; of men who have lost their indi- 
viduality. Equality today means "sameness" rather than 
"oneness." It is the sameness of abstractions, of the men who 
work in the same jobs, who have the same amusements, who 
read the same newspapers, who have the same feelings and 
the same ideas. In this respect one must also look with some 
skepticism at some achievements which are usually praised 
as signs of our progress, such as the equality of women. Need- 
less to say I am not speaking against the equality of women; 
but the positive aspects of this tendency for equality must 
not deceive one. It is part of the trend toward the elimina- 
tion of differences. Equality is bought at this very price: 
women are equal because they are not different any more. 
The proposition of Enlightenment philosophy, Vame n*a pas 
de sexe, the soul has no sex, has become the general practice. 
The polarity of the sexes is disappearing, and with it erotic 
love, which is based on this polarity. Men and women be- 
come the same, not equals as opposite poles. Contemporary 
society preaches this ideal of unindividualized equality be- 
cause it needs human atoms, each one the same, to make 
them function in a mass aggregation, smoothly, without fric- 


tion; all obeying the same commands, yet everybody being 
convinced that he is following his own desires. Just as mod- 
ern mass production requires the standardization of com- 
modities, so the social process requires standardization of 
man, and this standardization is called "equality.' 5 

Union by conformity is not intense and violent; it is calm, 
dictated by routine, and for this very reason often is insuf- 
ficient to pacify the anxiety of separateness. The incidence of 
alcoholism, drug addiction, compulsive sexualism, and sui- 
cide in contemporary Western society are symptoms of this 
relative failure of herd conformity. Furthermore, this solu- 
tion concerns mainly the mind and not the body, and for 
this reason too is lacking in comparison with the orgiastic 
solutions. Herd conformity has only one advantage: it is 
permanent, and not spasmodic. The individual is introduced 
into the conformity pattern at the age of three or four, and 
subsequently never loses his contact with the herd. Even his 
funeral, which he anticipates as his last great social affair, is 
in strict conformance with the pattern. 

In addition to conformity as a way to relieve the anxiety 
springing from separateness, another factor of contemporary 
life must be considered : the role of the work routine and of 
the pleasure routine. Man becomes a "nine to fiver" he is 
part of the labor force, or the bureaucratic force of clerks 
and managers. He has little initiative, his tasks are prescribed 
by the organization of the work; there is even little differ- 
ence between those high up on the ladder and those on the 
bottom. They all perform tasks prescribed by the whole 
structure of the organization, at a prescribed speed, and in a 
prescribed manner. Even the feelings are prescribed: cheer- 


fulness, tolerance, reliability, ambition, and an ability to get 

tlong with everybody without friction. Fun is routinized in 

imilar, although not quite as drastic ways. Books are selected 

»y the book clubs, movies by the film and theater owners 

id the advertising slogans paid for by them; the rest is also 

Itiniform: the Sunday ride in the car, the television session, 

|the card game, the social parties. From birth to death, from 

Monday to Monday, from morning to evening — all activities 

iare routinized, and prefabricated. How should a man caught 

in this net of routine not forget that he is a man, a unique 

I individual, one who is given only this one chance of living, 

|with hopes and disappointments, with sorrow and fear, with 

; the longing for love and the dread of the nothing and of 

I separateness? 

A third way of attaining union lies in creative activity, be 
it that of the artist, or of the artisan. In any kind of creative 
work the creating person unites himself with his material, 
which represents the world outside of himself. Whether a 
carpenter makes a table, or a goldsmith a piece of jewelry, 
whether the peasant grows his corn or the painter paints a 
picture, in all types of creative work the worker and his 
object become one, man unites himself with the world in the 
process of creation. This, however, holds true only for pro- 
ductive work, for work in which / plan, produce, see the 
result of my work. In the modern work process of a clerk, 
the worker on the endless belt, little is left of this uniting 
quality of work. The worker becomes an appendix to the 
machine or to the bureaucratic organization. He has ceased 
to be he — hence no union takes place beyond that of con- 


The unity achieved in productive work is not interper- 
sonal; the unity achieved in orgiastic fusion is transitory; the 
unity achieved by conformity is only pseudo-unity* Hence, 
they are only partial answers to the problem of existence. The 
full answer lies in the achievement of interpersonal union, of 
fusion with another person, in love. 

This desire for interpersonal fusion is the most powerful 
striving in man. It is the most fundamental passion, it is the 
force which keeps the human race together, the clan, the 
family, society. The failure to achieve it means insanity or 
destruction- — self-destruction or destruction of others. With- 
out love, humanity could not exist for a day. Yet, if we call 
the achievement of interpersonal union "love," we find our- 
selves in a serious difficulty. Fusion can be achieved in dif- 
ferent ways — and the differences are not less significant than 
what is common to the various forms of love. Should they all 
be called love? Or should we reserve the word "love" only 
for a specific kind of union, one which has been the ideal 
virtue in all great humanistic religions and philosophical 
systems of the last four thousand years of Western and 
Eastern history? 

As with all semantic difficulties, the answer can only be 
arbitrary. What matters is that we know what kind of union 
we are talking about when we speak of love. Do we refer to 
love as the mature answer to the problem of existence, or do 
we speak of those immature forms of love which may be 
called symbiotic union? In the following pages I shall call 
love only the former, I shall begin the discussion of "love" 
with the latter. 

Symbiotic union has its biological pattern in the relation- 


ship between the pregnant mother and the foetus. They are 
two, and yet one. They live "together," (sym-biosis) , they 
need each other. The foetus is a part of the mother, it re- 
ceives everything it needs from her; mother is its world, as 
it were; she feeds it, she protects it, but also her own life is 
enhanced by it. In the psychic symbiotic union, the two 
bodies are independent, but the same kind of attachment 
exists psychologically. 

The passive form of the symbiotic union is that of sub- 
mission, or if we use a clinical term, of masochism. The 
masochistic person escapes from the unbearable feeling of 
isolation and separateness by making himself part and parcel 
of another person who directs him, guides him, protects him ; 
who is his life and his oxygen, as it were. The power of the 
one to whom one submits is inflated, may he be a person or a 
god; he is everything, I am nothing, except inasmuch as I 
am part of him. As a part, I am part of greatness, of power, 
of certainty. The masochistic person does not have to make 
decisions, does not have to take any risks; he is never alone — 
but he is not independent; he has no integrity; he is not yet 
fully born. In a religious context the object of worship is 
called an idol; in a secular context of a masochistic love re- 
lationship the essential mechanism, that of idolatry, is the 
same. The masochistic relationship can be blended with 
physical, sexual desire; in this case it is not only a submission 
in which one's mind participates, but also one's whole body. 
There can be masochistic submission to fate, to sickness, to 
rhythmic music, to the orgiastic state produced by drugs or 
under hypnotic trance — in all these instances the person re- 
nounces his integrity, makes himself the instrument of some- 


body or something outside of himself; he need not solve the 
problem of living by productive activity. 

The active form of symbiotic fusion is domination or, to 
use the psychological term corresponding to masochism, 
sadism. The sadistic person wants to escape from his alone- 
ness and his sense of imprisonment by making another person 
part and parcel of himself. He inflates and enhances himself 
by incorporating another person, who worships him. 

The sadistic person is as dependent on the submissive per- 
son as the latter is on the former; neither can live without 
the other. The difference is only that the sadistic person 
commands, exploits, hurts, humiliates, and that the maso- 
chistic person is commanded, exploited, hurt, humiliated. 
This is a considerable difference in a realistic sense; in a 
deeper emotional sense, the difference is not so great as that 
which they both have in common : fusion without integrity. 
If one understands this, it is also not surprising to find that 
usually a person reacts in both the sadistic and the maso- 
chistic manner, usually toward different objects. Hitler re- 
acted primarily in a sadistic fashion toward people, but 
masochistically toward fate, history, the "higher power" of 
nature. His end — suicide among general destruction — is as 
characteristic as was his dream of success — total domina- 
tion. 1 

In contrast to symbiotic union, mature love is union under 
the condition of preserving one's integrity, one's individual- 
ity. Love is an active power in man; a power which breaks 
through the walls which separate man from his fellow men, 

1 Cf. a more detailed study of sadism and masochism in E. Fromm, 
Escape from Freedom, Rinehart & Company, New York, 1941. 


jityirhich unites him with others; love makes him overcome the 
Isfense of isolation and separateness, yet it permits him to be 
Ijihimself, to retain his integrity. In love the paradox occurs 

that two beings become one and yet remain two. 

If we say love is an activity, we face a difficulty which 

lies in the ambiguous meaning of the word "activity." By 
Inactivity," in the modern usage of the word, is usually meant 

|UV action which brings about a change in an existing situa- 
| tion by means of an expenditure of energy. Thus a man is 

Considered active if he does business, studies medicine, works 
I 1 on an endless belt, builds a table, or is engaged in sports. 
| Common to all these activities is that they are directed 

P i 

I toward an outside goal to be achieved. What is not taken into 
| Recount is the motivation of activity. Take for instance a man 
| driven to incessant work by a sense of deep insecurity and 
ii joneliness; or another one driven by ambition, or greed for 
% money* In all these cases the person is the slave of a passion, 
| and his activity is in reality a "passivity" because he is 
<; driven; he is the sufferer, not the "actor." On the other 
■■hand, a man sitting quiet and contemplating, with no pur- 
l pose or aim except that of experiencing himself and his 
[ oneness with the world, is considered to be "passive," because 
; he is not "doing" anything. In reality, this attitude of con- 
centrated meditation is the highest activity there is, an ac- 
tivity of the soul, which is possible only under the condition 
of inner freedom and independence. One concept of activity, 
the modern one, refers to the use of energy for the achieve- 
ment of external aims; the other concept of activity refers 
; to the use of man's inherent powers, regardless of whether 
any external change is brought about. The latter concept of 


activity has been formulated most clearly by Spinoza. He 
differentiates among the affects between active and passive 
affects, "actions" and "passions." In the exercise of an active 
affect, man is free, he is the master of his affect; in the 
exercise of a passive affect, man is driven, the object of 
motivations of which he himself is not aware. Thus Spinoza 
arrives at the statement that virtue and power are one and 
the same. 2 Envy, jealousy, ambition, any kind of greed are 
passions; love is an action, the practice of a human power, 
which can be practiced only in freedom and never as the 
result of a compulsion. 

Love is an activity, not a passive affect; it is a "standing 
in," not a "falling for." In the most general way, the active 
character of love can be described by stating that love is 
primarily giving, not receiving. 

What is giving? Simple as the answer to this question 
seems to be, it is actually full of ambiguities and complexi- 
ties. The most widespread misunderstanding is that which 
assumes that giving is "giving up" something, being deprived 
of, sacrificing. The person whose character has not developed 
beyond the stage of the receptive, exploitative, or hoarding 
orientation, experiences the act of giving in this way. The 
marketing character is willing to give, but only in exchange 
for receiving; giving without receiving for him is being 
cheated. 3 People whose main orientation is a non-productive 
one feel giving as an impoverishment. Most individuals of 

2 Spinoza, Ethics IV, Def. 8. 

3 Cf. a detailed discussion of these character orientations in E. 
Fromm, Man for Himself, Rinehart & Company, New York, 1947, 
Chap. Ill, pp. 54-117. 


Ithis type therefore refuse to give. Some make a virtue out of 

\ giving in the sense of a sacrifice. They feel that just because 

|it'is painful to give, one should give; the virtue of giving to 

|: them lies in the very act of acceptance of the sacrifice. For 

\ them, the norm that it is better to give than to receive means 

that it is better to suffer deprivation than to experience joy. 

For the productive character, giving has an entirely dif- 

| ferent meaning. Giving is the highest expression of potency. 

In the very act of giving, I experience my strength, my 

-''Wealth, my power. This experience of heightened vitality 

and potency fills me with joy. I experience myself as over- 

I flowing, spending, alive, hence as joyous. 4 Giving is more 

| joyous than receiving, not because it is a deprivation, but 

because in the act of giving lies the expression of my alive- 

r ness. 

It is not difficult to recognize the validity of this principle 
^applying it to various specific phenomena. The most ele- 
tnentary example lies in the sphere of sex. The culmination 
of the male sexual function lies in the act of giving; the man 
gives himself, his sexual organ, to the woman. At the moment 
| pf orgasm he gives his semen to her. He cannot help giving 
it if he is potent. If he cannot give, he is impotent. For the 
woman the process is not different, although somewhat more 
complex. She gives herself too; she opens, the gates to her 
feminine center; in the act of receiving, she gives. If she is 
incapable of this act of giving, if she can only receive, she is 
frigid. With her the act of giving occurs again, not in her 
function as a lover, but in that as a mother. She gives of 
herself to the growing child within her, she gives her milk to 

* Compare the definition of joy given by Spinoza. 


the infant, she gives her bodily warmth. Not to give would 
be painful. 

In the sphere of material things giving means being rich. 
Not he who has much is rich, but he who gives much. The 
hoarder who is anxiously worried about losing something is, 
psychologically speaking, the poor, impoverished man, re- 
gardless of how much he has. Whoever is capable of giving 
of himself is rich. He experiences himself as one who can 
confer of himself to others. Only one who is deprived of all 
that goes beyond the barest necessities for subsistence would 
be incapable of enjoying the act of giving material things. 
But daily experience shows that what a person considers the 
minimal necessities depends as much on his character as it 
depends on his actual possessions. It is well known that the 
poor are more willing to give than the rich. Nevertheless, 
poverty beyond a certain point may make it impossible to 
give, and is so degrading, not only because of the suffering 
it causes directly, but because of the fact that it deprives the 
poor of the joy of giving. 

The most important sphere of giving, however, is not that 
of material things, but lies in the specifically human realm. 
What does one person give to another? He gives of himself, 
of the most precious he has, he gives of his life. This does not 
necessarily mean that he sacrifices his life for the other — but 
that he gives him of that which is alive in him; he gives him 
of his joy, of his interest, of his understanding, of his knowl- 
edge, of his humor, of his sadness — of all expressions and 
manifestations of that which is alive in him. In thus giving 
of his life, he enriches the other person, he enhances the 
other's sense of aliveness by enhancing his own sense of alive- 


ness. He does not give in order to receive; giving is in itself 
exquisite joy. But in giving he cannot help bringing some- 
thing to life in the other person, and this which is brought to 
life reflects back to him; in truly giving, he cannot help re- 
ceiving that which is given back to him. Giving implies to 
make the other person a giver also and they both share in 
the joy of what they have brought to life. In the act of giving 
something is born, and both persons involved are grateful 
for the life that is born for both of them. Specifically with 
regard to love this means: love is a power which produces 
love; impotence is the inability to produce love. This thought 
has been beautifully expressed by Marx: "Assume," he says, 
"man as man, and his relation to the world as a human one, 
and you can exchange love only for love, confidence for con- 
fidence, etc. If you wish to enjoy art, you must be an artis- 
tically trained person ; if you wish to have influence on other 
people, you must be a person who has a really stimulating 
and furthering influence on other people. Every one of your 
relationships to man and to nature must be a definite ex- 
pression of your real, individual life corresponding to the 
object of your will. If you love without calling forth love, 
that is, if your love as such does not produce love, if by means 
of an expression of life as a loving person you do not make 
of yourself a loved person, then your love is impotent, a 
misfortune." 6 But not only in love does giving mean receiv- 
ing. The teacher is taught by his students, the actor is stimu- 
lated by his audience, the psychoanalyst is cured by his 

5 "Nationalokonomie und Philosophic," 1844, published in Karl 
Marx' Die Friihschriften, Alfred Kroner Verlag, Stuttgart, 1953, pp. 
300, 301. (My translation, E. F.) 


patient — provided they do not treat each other as objects, 
but are related to each other genuinely and productively. 

It is hardly necessary to stress the fact that the ability to 
love as an act of giving depends on the character develop- 
ment of the person. It presupposes the attainment of a pre- 
dominantly productive orientation; in this orientation the 
person has overcome dependency, narcissistic omnipotence, 
the wish to exploit others, or to hoard, and has acquired 
faith in his own human powers, courage to rely on his powers 
in the attainment of his goals. To the degree that these 
qualities are lacking, he is afraid of giving himself — hence 
of loving. 

Beyond the element of giving, the active character of love 
becomes evident in the fact that it always implies certain 
basic elements, common to all forms of love. These are care, 
responsibility, respect and knowledge. 

That love implies care is most evident in a mother's love 
for her child. No assurance of her love would strike us as 
sincere if we saw her lacking in care for the infant, if she 
neglected to feed it, to bathe it, to give it physical comfort; 
and we are impressed by her love if we see her caring for 
the child. It is not different even with the love for animals or 
flowers. If a woman told us that she loved flowers, and we 
saw that she forgot to water them, we would not believe in 
her "love" for flowers. Love is the active concern for the life 
and the growth of that which we love. Where this active con- 
cern is lacking, there is no love. This element of love has been 
beautifully described in the book of Jonah. God has told 
Jonah to go to Nineveh to warn its inhabitants that they will 
be punished unless they mend their evil ways. Jonah runs 


away from his mission because he is afraid that the people of 
Nineveh will repent and that God will forgive them. He is a 
man with a strong sense of order and law, but without love. 
However, in his attempt to escape, he finds himself in the 
belly of a whale, symbolizing the state of isolation and im- 
prisonment which his lack of love and solidarity has brought 
upon him. God saves him, and Jonah goes to Nineveh. He 
preaches to the inhabitants as God had told him, and the 
very thing he was afraid of happens. The men of Nineveh 
repent their sins, mend their ways, and God forgives them 
and decides not to destroy the city, Jonah is intensely angry 
and disappointed; he wanted "justice" to be done, not 
mercy. At last he finds some comfort in the shade of a tree 
which God had made to grow for him to protect him from 
the sun. But when God makes the tree wilt, Jonah is de- 
pressed and angrily complains to God. God answers : "Thou 
hast had pity on the gourd for the which thou hast not 
labored neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, 
and perished in a night. And should I not spare Nineveh, 
that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand 
people that cannot discern between their right hand and 
their left hand; and also much cattle?" God's answer to 
Jonah is to be understood symbolically. God explains to 
Jonah that the essence of love is to "labor" for something 
and "to make something grow," that love and labor are in- 
separable. One loves that for which one labors, and one 
labors for that which one loves. 

Care and concern imply another aspect of love; that of 
responsibility. Today responsibility is often meant to denote 
duty, something imposed upon one from the outside. But re- 


sponsibility, in its true sense, is an entirely voluntary act; it 
is my response to the needs, expressed or unexpressed, of 
another human being. To be "responsible" means to be able 
and ready to "respond." Jonah did not feel responsible to 
the inhabitants of Nineveh. He, like Cain, could ask: "Am 
I my brother's keeper?" The loving person responds. The life 
of his brother is not his brother's business alone, but his own. 
He feels responsible for his fellow men, as he feels respon- 
sible for himself. This responsibility, in the case of the mother 
and her infant, refers mainly to the care for physical needs. 
In the love between adults it refers mainly to the psychic 
needs of the other person. 

Responsibility could easily deteriorate into domination 
and possessiveness, were it not for a third component of love, 
respect. Respect is not fear and awe; it denotes, in accord- 
ance with the root of the word (respicere = to look at), 
the ability to see a person as he is, to be aware of his unique 
individuality. Respect means the concern that the other per- 
son should grow and unfold as he is. Respect, thus, implies 
the absence of exploitation. I want the loved person to grow 
and unfold for his own sake, and in his own ways, and not 
for the purpose of serving me. If I love the other person, I 
feel one with him or her, but with him as he is, not as I need 
him to be as an object for my use. It is clear that respect is 
possible only if / have achieved independence; if I can stand 
and walk without needing crutches, without having to domi- 
nate and exploit anyone else. Respect exists only on the basis 
of freedom: "l'amour est l 3 enfant de la liberty" as an old 
French song says; love is the child of freedom, never that of 


j) To respect a person is not possible without knowing him; 
If Care and responsibility would be blind if they were not 
^guided by knowledge. Knowledge would be empty if it were 
not motivated by concern. There are many layers of knowl- 
edge; the knowledge which is an aspect of love is one which 
| does not stay at the periphery, but penetrates to the core. 
It is possible only when I can transcend the cencern for 
: myself and see the other person in his own terms. I may 
know, for instance, that a person is angry, even if he does 
■piiibt show it overtly; but I may know him more deeply than 
| ; that; then Iknow that he is anxious, and worried; that he 
.'feels lonely, that he feels guilty. Then I know that his anger 
I' is only the manifestation of something deeper, and I see him 
I ; as anxious and embarrassed, that is, as the suffering person, 
| rather than as the angry one. 

Knowledge has one more, and a more fundamental, re- 
lation to the problem of love. The basic need to fuse with 
another person so as to transcend the prison of one's separate- 
ness is closely related to another specifically human desire, 
that to know the "secret of man." While life in its merely bio- 
logical aspects is a miracle and a secret, man in his human 
aspects is an unfathomable secret to himself — and to his fel- 
low man. We know ourselves, and yet even with all the efforts 
we may make, we do not know ourselves. We know our fel- 
low man, and yet we do not know him, because we are not a 
thing, and our fellow man is not a thing. The further we 
( ,.. reach into the depth of our being, or someone else's being, 
r the more the goal of knowledge eludes us. Yet we cannot 
i; help desiring to penetrate into the secret of man's soul, into 
' the innermost nucleus which is "he." 


There is one way, a desperate one, to know the secret : it 
is that of complete power over another person; the power 
which makes him do what we want, feel what we want, 
think what we want; which transforms him into a thing, our 
thing, our possession. The ultimate degree of this attempt to 
know lies in the extremes of sadism, the desire and ability to 
make a human being suffer; to torture him, to force him to 
betray his secret in his suffering. In this craving for penetrat- 
ing man's secret, his and hence our own, lies an essential 
motivation for the depth and intensity of cruelty and destruc- 
tiveness. In a very succinct way this idea has been expressed 
by Isaac Babel. He quotes a fellow officer in the Russian civil 
war, who has just stamped his former master to death, as 
saying: "With shooting — I'll put it this way — with shooting 
you only get rid of a chap. . . . With shooting you'll never 
get at the soul, to where it is in a fellow and how it shows 
itself. But I don't spare myself, and I've more than once 
trampled an enemy for over an hour. You see, I want to get 
to know what life really is, what life's like down our way." 6 

In children we often see this path to knowledge quite 
overtly. The child takes something apart, breaks it up in 
order to know it; or it takes an animal apart; cruelly tears 
off the wings of a butterfly in order to know it, to force its 
secret. The cruelty itself is motivated by something deeper: 
the wish to know the secret of things and of life. 

The other path to knowing "the secret" is love. Love is 
active penetration of the other person, in which my desire to 
know is stilled by union. In the act of fusion I know you, I 
know myself, I know everybody — and I "know" nothing. 

6 I. Babel, The Collected Stories, Criterion Book, New York, 1955. 


I know in the only way knowledge of that which is alive 
is possible for man— by experience of union — not by any 
knowledge our thought can give. Sadism is motivated by the 
wish to know the secret, yet I remain as ignorant as I was 
before. I have torn the other being apart limb from limb, yet 
all I have done is to destroy him. Love is the only way of 
knowledge, which in the act of union answers my quest. In 
the act of loving, of giving myself, in the act of penetrating 
the other person, I find myself, I discover myself, I discover 
us both, I discover man. 

The longing to know ourselves and to know our fellow 
man has been expressed in the Delphic motto "Know thy- 
self." It is the mainspring of all psychology. But inasmuch as 
the desire is to know all of man, his innermost secret, the de- 
sire can never be fulfilled in knowledge of the ordinary kind, 
in knowledge only by thought. Even if we knew a thousand 
times more of ourselves, we would never reach bottom. We 
would still remain an enigma to ourselves, as our fellow man 
would remain an enigma to us. The only way of full knowl- 
edge lies in the act of love: this act transcends thought, it 
transcends words. It is the daring plunge into the experience 
of union. However, knowledge in thought, that is psycho- 
logical knowledge, is a necessary condition for full knowledge 
in the act of love. I have to know the other person and myself 
objectively, in order to be able to see his reality, or rather, to 
overcome the illusions, the irrationally distorted picture I 
have of him. Only if I know a human being objectively, can 
I know him in his ultimate essence, in the act of love. 7 

7 The above statement has an important implication for the role of 
psychology in contemporary Western culture. While the great popu- 


The problem of knowing man is parallel to the religious 
problem of knowing God. In conventional Western theology 
the attempt is made to know God by thought, to make state- 
ments about God. It is assumed that I can know God in my 
thought. In mysticism, which is the consequent outcome of 
monotheism (as I shall try to show later on), the attempt is 
given up to know God by thought, and it is replaced by the 
experience of union with God in which there is no more 
room — and no need — for knowledge about God. 

The experience of union, with man, or religiously speak- 
ing, with God, is by no means irrational. On the contrary, it 
is as Albert Schweitzer has pointed out, the consequence of 
rationalism, its most daring and radical consequence. It is 
based on our knowledge of the fundamental, and not acci- 
dental, limitations of our knowledge. It is the knowledge that 
we shall never "grasp" the secret of man and of the universe, 
but that we can know, nevertheless, in the act of love. Psy- 
chology as a science has its limitations, and, as the logical 
consequence of theology is mysticism, so the ultimate conse- 
quence of psychology is love. 

Care, responsibility, respect and knowledge are mutually 
interdependent. They are a syndrome of attitudes which are 
to be found in the mature person; that is, in the person who 
develops his own powers productively, who only wants to 
have that which he has worked for, who has given up nar- 
cissistic dreams of omniscience and omnipotence, who has 

larity of psychology certainly indicates an interest in the knowledge of 
man, it also betrays the fundamental lack of love in human relations 
today. Psychological knowledge thus becomes a substitute for full 
knowledge in the act of love, instead of being a step toward it. 


acquired humility based on the inner strength which only 
genuine productive activity can give. 

Thus far I have spoken of love as the overcoming of 
human separateness, as the fulfillment of the longing for 
union. But above the universal, existential need for union 
rises a more specific, biological one : the desire for union 
between the masculine and feminine poles. The idea of this 
polarization is most strikingly expressed in the myth that 
originally man and woman were one, that they were cut in 
half, and from then on each male has been seeking for the 
lost female part of himself in order to unite again with her. 
(The same idea of the original unity of the sexes is also con- 
tained in the Biblical story of Eve being made from Adam's 
rib, even though in this story, in the spirit of patriarchalism, 
woman is considered secondary to man.) The meaning of 
the myth is clear enough. Sexual polarization leads man to 
seek union in a specific way, that of union with the other sex. 
The polarity between the male and female principles exists 
also within each man and each woman. Just as physiolog- 
ically man and woman each have hormones of the opposite 
sex, they are bisexual also in the psychological sense. They 
carry in themselves the principle of receiving and of penetrat- 
ing, of matter and of spirit. Man — and woman — finds union 
within himself only in the union of his female and his male 
polarity. This polarity is the basis for all creativity. 

The male-female polarity is also the basis for interpersonal 
creativity. This is obvious biologically in the fact that the 
union of sperm and ovum is the basis for the birth of a child. 
But in the purely psychic realm it is not different; in the 
love between man and woman, each of them is reborn. (The 


homosexual deviation is a failure to attain this polarized 
union, and thus the homosexual suffers from the pain of 
never-resolved separateness, a failure, however, which he 
shares with the average heterosexual who cannot love.) 

The same polarity of the male and female principle exists 
in nature; not only, as is obvious in animals and plants, but 
in the polarity of the two fundamental functions, that of re- 
ceiving and that of penetrating. It is the polarity of the earth 
and rain, of the river and the ocean, of night and day, of 
darkness and light, of matter and spirit. This idea is beauti- 
fully expressed by the great Muslim poet and mystic, Rumi: 

Never, in sooth, does the lover seek without being 

sought by his beloved. 
When the lightning of love has shot into this heart, 

know that there is love in that heart. 
When love of God waxes in thy heart, beyond any 

doubt God hath love for thee. 
No sound of clapping comes from one hand without the 

other hand. 
Divine Wisdom is destiny and decree made us lovers of 

one another. 
Because of that fore-ordainment every part of the world 

is paired with its mate. 
In the view of the wise, Heaven is man and Earth 

woman : Earth fosters what Heaven lets fall. 
When Earth lacks heat, Heaven sends it; when she has 

lost her freshness and moisture, Heaven restores it. 
Heaven goes on his rounds, like a husband foraging for 

the wife's sake; 
And Earth is busy with housewiferies: she attends to 

births and suckling that which she bears. 



Regard Earth and Heaven as endowed with intelli- 
gence, since they do the work of intelligent beings. 

Unless these twain taste pleasure from one another, why 
are they creeping together like sweethearts? 

Without the Earth, how should flower and tree blos- 
som? What, then, would Heaven's water and heat 

As God put desire in man and woman to the end that 
the world should be preserved by their union, 

So hath He implanted in every part of existence the 
desire for another part. 

Day and Night are enemies outwardly; yet both serve 
one purpose, 

Each in love with the other for the sake of perfecting 
their mutual work, 

Without Night, the nature of Man would receive no 
income, so there would be nothing for Day to spend. 8 

The problem of the male-female polarity leads to some 
further discussion on the subject matter of love and sex. I 
have spoken before of Freud's error in seeing in love exclu- 
sively the expression — or a sublimation — of the sexual in- 
stinct, rather than recognizing that the sexual desire is one 
manifestation of the need for love and union. But Freud's 
error goes deeper. In line with his physiological materialism, 
he sees in the sexual instinct the result of a chemically pro- 
duced tension in the body which is painful and seeks for re- 
lief. The aim of the sexual desire is the removal of this pain- 
ful tension; sexual satisfaction lies in the accomplishment of 
this removal. This view has its validity to the extent that the 

8 R. A. Nicholson, Rural, George Allen and Unwin, Ltd., London, 
1950, pp. 122-3. 


sexual desire operates in the same fashion as hunger or thirst 
do when the organism is undernourished. Sexual desire, in 
this concept, is an itch, sexual satisfaction the removal of the 
itch. In fact, as far as this concept of sexuality is concerned, 
masturbation would be the ideal sexual satisfaction. What 
Freud, paradoxically enough, ignores, is the psycho-biological 
aspect of sexuality, the masculine-feminine polarity, and the 
desire to bridge this polarity by union. This curious error 
was probably facilitated by Freud's extreme patriarchalism, 
which led him to the assumption that sexuality per se is 
masculine, and thus made him ignore the specific female 
sexuality. He expressed this idea in the Three Contributions 
to the Theory of Sex, saying that the libido has regularly "a 
masculine nature," regardless of whether it is the libido in a 
man or in a woman. The same idea is also expressed in a 
rationalized form in Freud's theory that the little boy experi- 
ences the woman as a castrated man, and that she herself 
seeks for various compensations for the loss of the male 
genital. But woman is not a castrated man, and her sexuality 
is specifically feminine and not of "a masculine nature." 

Sexual attraction between the sexes is only partly moti- 
vated by the need for removal of tension; it is mainly the 
need for union with the other sexual pole. In fact, erotic at- 
traction is by no means only expressed in sexual attraction. 
There is masculinity and femininity in character as well as 
in sexual junction. The masculine character can be defined 
as having the qualities of penetration, guidance, activity, dis- 
cipline and adventurousness; the feminine character by the 
qualities of productive receptiveness, protection, realism, en- 
durance, motherliness. (It must always be kept in mind that 


in each individual both characteristics are blended, but with 
the preponderance of those appertaining to "his" or "her" 
sex.) Very often if the masculine character traits of a man 
are weakened because emotionally he has remained a child, 
he will try to compensate for this lack by the exclusive 
emphasis on his male role in sex. The result is the Don Juan, 
who needs to prove his male prowess in sex because he is un- 
sure of his masculinity in a characterological sense. When the 
paralysis of masculinity is more extreme, sadism (the use of 
force) becomes the main— a perverted— substitute for mas- 
culinity. If the feminine sexuality is weakened or perverted, 
it is transformed into masochism, or possessiveness. 

Freud has been criticized for his overevaluation of sex. 
This criticism was often prompted by the wish to remove an 
element from Freud's system which aroused criticism and 
hostility among conventionally minded people. Freud keenly 
sensed this motivation and for this very reason fought every 
attempt to change his theory of sex. Indeed, in his time, 
Freud's theory had a challenging and revolutionary charac- 
ter. But what was true around 1900 is not true any more 
fifty years later. The sexual mores have changed so much 
that Freud's theories are not any longer shocking to the 
Western middle classes, and it is a quixotic kind of radical- 
ism when orthodox analysts today still think they are coura- 
geous and radical in defending Freud's sexual theory. In 
fact, their brand of psychoanalysis is conformist, and does 
not try to raise psychological questions which would lead to 
a criticism of contemporary society. 

My criticism of Freud's theory is not that he overempha- 
sized sex, but his failure to understand sex deeply enough. 


He took the first step in discovering the significance of inter- 
personal passions; in accordance with his philosophic 
premises he explained them physiologically. In the further 
development of psychoanalysis it is necessary to correct and 
deepen Freud's concept by translating Freud's insights from 
the physiological into the biological and existential dimen- 
sion. 9 


The infant, at the moment of birth, would feel the fear 
of dying, if a gracious fate did not preserve it from any 
awareness of the anxiety involved in the separation from 
mother, and from intra-uterine existence. Even after being 
born, the infant is hardly different from what it was before 
birth; it cannot recognize objects, it is not yet aware of 
itself, and of the world as being outside of itself. It only 
feels the positive stimulation of warmth and food, and it does 
not yet differentiate warmth and food from its source: 
mother. Mother is warmth, mother is food, mother is the 
euphoric state of satisfaction and security. This state is one 
of narcissism, to use Freud's term. The outside reality, per- 
sons and things, have meaning only in terms of their satisfy- 
ing or frustrating the inner state of the body. Real is only 
what is within; what is outside is real only in terms of my 
needs — never in terms of its own qualities or needs. 

9 Freud himself made a first step in this direction in his later con- 
cept of the life and death instincts. His concept of the former (eros) 
as a principle of synthesis and unification is on an entirely different 
plane from that of his libido concept. But in spite of the fact that the 
theory of life and death instincts was accepted by orthodox analysts, 
this acceptance did not lead to a fundamental revision of the libido 
concept, especially as far as clinical work is concerned. 


When the child grows and develops, he becomes capable 
of perceiving things as they are ; the satisfaction in being fed 
becomes differentiated from the nipple, the breast from the 
mother. Eventually the child experiences his thirst, the satis- 
fying milk, the breast and the mother, as different entities. 
He learns to perceive many other things as being different, as 
having an existence of their own. At this point he learns to 
give them names. At the same time he learns to handle them; 
learns that fire is hot and painful, that mother's body is 
warm and pleasureful, that wood is hard and heavy, that 
paper is light and can be torn. He learns how to handle peo- 
ple; that mother will smile when I eat; that she will take 
me in her arms when I cry; that she will praise me when I 
have a bowel movement. All these experiences become crys- 
tallized and integrated in the experience: / am loved. I am 
loved because I am mother's child. I am loved because I 
am helpless. I am loved because I am beautiful, admirable. 
I am loved because mother needs me. To put it in a more 
general formula: / am loved for what I am, or perhaps more 
accurately, J am loved because I am. This experience of 
being loved by mother is a passive one. There is nothing 
I have to do in order to be loved — mother's love is uncon- 
ditional. All I have to do is to be — to be her child. Mother's 
love is bliss, is peace, it need not be acquired, it need not be 
deserved. But there is a negative side, too, to the uncondi- 
tional quality of mother's love. Not only does it not need to 
be deserved — it also cannot be acquired, produced, con- 
trolled. If it is there, it is like a blessing; if it is not there, it 
is as if all beauty had gone out of life — and there is nothing 
I can do to create it. 


For most children before the age from eight and a half to 
ten, 10 the problem is almost exclusively that of being loved — 
of being loved for what one is. The child up to this age does 
not yet love; he responds gratefully, joyfully to being loved. 
At this point of the child's development a new factor enters 
into the picture: that of a new feeling of producing love by 
one's own activity. For the first time, the child thinks of giv- 
ing something to mother (or to father), of producing some- 
thing — a poem, a drawing, or whatever it may be. For the 
first time in the child's life the idea of love is transformed 
from being loved into loving; into creating love. It takes 
many years from this first beginning to the maturing of love. 
Eventually the child, who may now be an adolescent, has 
overcome his egocentricity; the other person is not any more 
primarily a means to the satisfaction of his own needs. The 
needs of the other person are as important as his own — in 
fact, they have become more important. To give has become 
more satisfactory, more joyous, than to receive; to love, more 
important even than being loved. By loving, he has left the 
prison cell of aloneness and isolation which was constituted 
by the state of narcissism and self-centeredness. He feels a 
sense of new union, of sharing, of oneness. More than that, 
he feels the potency of producing love by loving — rather than 
the dependence of receiving by being loved — and for that 
reason having to be small, helpless, sick — or "good." In- 
fantile love follows the principle: "I love because I am 
loved/' Mature love follows the principle: "I am loved be- 

10 Cf. Sullivan's description of this development in The Interpersonal 
Theory of Psychiatry, W. W. Norton & Co., New York, 1953. 


cause I love." Immature love says: "I love you because I need 
you!' Mature love says: "I need you because I love you" 

Closely related to the development of the capacity of love 
is the development of the object of love. The first months 
and years of the child are those where his closest attachment 
is to the mother. This attachment begins before the moment 
of birth, when mother and child are still one, although they 
are two. Birth changes the situation in some respects, but not 
as much as it would appear. The child, while now living 
outside of the womb, is still completely dependent on mother. 
But daily he becomes more independent : he learns to walk, 
to talk, to explore the world on his own; the relationship to 
mother loses some of its vital significance, and instead the 
relationship to father becomes more and more important. 

In order to understand this shift from mother to father, 
we must consider the essential differences in quality between 
motherly and fatherly love. We have already spoken about 
motherly love. Motherly love by its very nature is uncondi- 
tional. Mother loves the newborn infant because it is her 
child, not because the child has fulfilled any specific condi- 
tion, or lived up to any specific expectation. (Of course, 
when I speak here of mother's and father's love, I speak of 
the "ideal types" — in Max Weber's sense or of an archetype 
in Jung's sense — and do not imply that every mother and 
father loves in that way. I refer to the fatherly and motherly 
principle, which is represented in the motherly and fatherly 
person.) Unconditional love corresponds to one of the 
deepest longings, not only of the child, but of every human 
being; on the other hand, to be loved because of one's 
merit, because one deserves it, always leaves doubt; maybe 


I did not please the person whom I want to love me, 
maybe this, or that — there is always a fear that love could 
disappear. Furthermore, "deserved" love easily leaves a 
bitter feeling that one is not loved for oneself, that one is 
loved only because one pleases, that one is, in the last analy- 
sis, not loved at all but used. No wonder that we all cling 
to the longing for motherly love, as children and also as 
adults. Most children are lucky enough to receive motherly 
love (to what extent will be discussed later). As adults the 
same longing is much more difficult to fulfill. In the most 
satisfactory development it remains a component of normal 
erotic love; often it finds expression in religious forms, more 
often in neurotic forms. 

The relationship to father is quite different. Mother is the 
home we come from, she is nature, soil, the ocean; father 
does not represent any such natural home. He has little con- 
nection with the child in the first years of its life, and his 
importance for the child in this early period cannot be com- 
pared with that of mother. But while father does not repre- 
sent the natural world, he represents the other pole of human 
existence; the world of thought, of man-made things, of law 
and order, of discipline, of travel and adventure. Father is 
the one who teaches the child, who shows him the road into 
the world. 

Closely related to this function is one which is connected 
with socio-economic development. When private property 
came into existence, and when private property could be in- 
herited by one of the sons, father began to look for that son 
to whom he could leave his property. Naturally, that was the 
one whom father thought best fitted to become his successor, 


I the son who was most like him, and consequently whom he 

[liked the most. Fatherly love is conditional love. Its principle 

is "I love you because you fulfill my expectations, because 

fyou do your duty, because you are like me." In conditional 

fatherly love we find, as with unconditional motherly love, 

a negative and a positive aspect. The negative aspect is the 

| very fact that fatherly love has to be deserved, that it can be 
lost if one does not do what is expected. In the nature of 
fatherly love lies the fact that obedience becomes the main 
virtue, that disobedience is the main sin — and its punishment 
the withdrawal of fatherly love. The positive side is equally 
important. Since his love is conditioned, I can do something 
to acquire it, I can work for it; his love is not outside of my 
control as motherly love is. 

The mother's and the father's attitudes toward the child 
correspond to the child's own needs. The infant needs 
mother's unconditional love and care physiologically as well 
as psychically. The child, after six, begins to need father's 
love, his authority and guidance. Mother has the function 
of making him secure in life, father has the function of 
teaching him, guiding him to cope with those problems with 
which the particular society the child has been born into 
confronts him. In the ideal case, mother's love does not try 
to prevent the child from growing up, does not try to put a 
premium on helplessness. Mother should have faith in life, 
hence not be overanxious, and thus not infect the child with 
her anxiety. Part of her life should be the wish that the child 
become independent and eventually separate from her. 
Father's love should be guided by principles and expecta- 
tions; it should be patient and tolerant, rather than threaten- 


ing and authoritarian. It should give the growing child an 
increasing sense of competence and eventually permit him to 
become his own authority and to dispense with that of father. 

Eventually, the mature person has come to the point where 
he is his own mother and his own father. He has, as it were, 
a motherly and a fatherly conscience. Motherly conscience 
says: "There is no misdeed, no crime which could deprive 
you of my love, of my wish for your life and happiness." 
Fatherly conscience says : "You did wrong, you cannot avoid 
accepting certain consequences of your wrongdoing, and 
most of all you must change your ways if I am to like you." 
The mature person has become free from the outside mother 
and father figures, and has built them up inside. In contrast 
to Freud's concept of the super-ego, however, he has built 
them inside not by incorporating mother and father, but by 
building a motherly conscience on his own capacity for love, 
and a fatherly conscience on his reason and judgment. Fur- 
thermore, the mature person loves with both the motherly 
and the fatherly conscience, in spite of the fact that they seem 
to contradict each other. If he would only retain his fatherly 
conscience, he would become harsh and inhuman. If he 
would only retain his motherly conscience, he would be apt 
to lose judgment and to hinder himself and others in their 

In this development from mother-centered to father- 
centered attachment, and their eventual synthesis, lies the 
basis for mental health and the achievement of maturity. 
In the failure of this development lies the basic cause for 
neurosis. While it is beyond the scope of this book to develop 



phis trend of thought more fully, some brief remarks may 
perve to clarify this statement. 

One cause for neurotic development can lie in the fact 
ithat a boy has a loving, but overindulgent or domineering 
phother, and a weak and uninterested father. In this case he 
Ityfiay remain fixed at an early mother attachment, and de- 
fcivelop into a person who is dependent on mother, feels help- 
Mtess, has the strivings characteristic of the receptive person, 
ptliat is, to receive, to be protected, to be taken care of, and 
pvho has a lack of fatherly qualities — discipline, independ- 
ence, an ability to master life by himself. He may try to find 
Ijf /mothers" in everybody, sometimes in women and some- 
feimes in men in a position of authority and power. If, on the 
fether hand, the mother is cold, unresponsive and domineer- 
||ng, he may either transfer the need for motherly protection 
|:|o his father, and subsequent father figures — in which case 
Jjthe end result is similar to the former case — or he will de- 
|!fVelop into a onesidedly father-oriented person, completely 
^glven to the principles of law, order and authority, and Jack- 
ie ing in the ability to expect or to receive unconditional love. 
| This development is further intensified if the father is 
authoritarian and at the same time strongly attached to the 
B/$Oil What is characteristic of all these neurotic developments 
| is the fact that one principle, the fatherly or the motherly, 
fails to develop or — and this is the case in the more severe 
I, neurotic development — that the roles of mother and father 
become confused both with regard to persons outside and 
with regard to these roles within the person. Further exami- 
P nation may show that certain types of neurosis, like obses- 
| Sional neurosis, develop more on the basis of a one-sided 


father attachment, while others, like hysteria, alcoholism, in- 
ability to assert oneself and to cope with life realistically, and 
depressions, result from mother-centeredness. 


Love is not primarily a relationship to a specific person ; it 
is an attitude, an orientation of character which determines 
the relate dness of a person to the world as a whole, not 
toward one "object" of love. If a person loves only one other 
person and is indifferent to the rest of his fellow men, his 
love is not love but a symbiotic attachment, or an enlarged 
egotism. Yet, most people believe that love is constituted by 
the object, not by the faculty. In fact, they even believe that 
it is a proof of the intensity of their love when they do not 
love anybody except the "loved" person. This is the same 
fallacy which we have already mentioned above. Because 
one does not see that love is an activity, a power of the soul, 
one believes that all that is necessary to find is the right 
object — and that everything goes by itself afterward. This 
attitude can be compared to that of a man who wants to 
paint but who, instead of learning the art, claims that he 
has just to wait for the right object, and that he will paint 
beautifully when he finds it. If I truly love one person I love 
all persons, I love the world, I love life. If I can say to some- 
body else, "I love you," I must be able to say, "I love in 
you everybody, I love through you the world, I love in you 
also myself." 

Saying that love is an orientation which refers to all and 
not to one does not imply, however, the idea that there are 


no differences between various types of love, which depend 
on the kind of object which is loved. 

a. Brotherly Love 

The most fundamental kind of love, which underlies all 
types of love, is brotherly love. By this I mean the sense of 
responsibility, care, respect, knowledge of any other human 
being, the wish to further his life. This is the kind of love the 
Bible speaks of when it says: love thy neighbor as thyself. 
Brotherly love is love for all human beings; it is characterized 
by its very lack of exclusiveness. If I have developed the 
capacity for love, then I cannot help loving my brothers. In 
brotherly love there is the experience of union with all men, 
of human solidarity, of human at-onement. Brotherly love is 
based on the experience that we all are one. The differences 
in talents, intelligence, knowledge are negligible in compari- 
son with the identity of the human core common to all men. 
In order to experience this identity it is necessary to pene- 
trate from the periphery to the core. If I perceive in another 
person mainly the surface, I perceive mainly the differences, 
that which separates us. If I penetrate to the core, I perceive 
our identity, the fact of our brotherhood. This relatedness 
from center to center — instead of that from periphery to 
periphery — is "central relatedness." Or as Simone Weil ex- 
pressed it so beautifully: "The same words [e.g., a man says 
to his wife, "I love you"] can be commonplace or extra- 
ordinary according to the manner in which they are spoken. 
And this manner depends on the depth of the region in a 
man's being from which they proceed without the will being 
able to do anything. And by a marvelous agreement they 


reach the same region in him who hears them. Thus the 
hearer can discern, if he has any power of discernment, what 
is the value of the words." 1X 

Brotherly love is love between equals : but, indeed, even as 
equals we are not always "equal"; inasmuch as we are 
human, we are all in need of help. Today I, tomorrow you. 
But this need of help does not mean that the one is helpless, 
the other powerful. Helplessness is a transitory condition; 
the ability to stand and walk on one's own feet is the per- 
manent and common one. 

Yet, love of the helpless one, love of the poor and the 
stranger, are the beginning of brotherly love. To love one's 
flesh and blood is no achievement. The animal loves its 
young and cares for them. The helpless one loves his master, 
since his life depends on him; the child loves his parents, 
since he needs them. Only in the love of those who do not 
serve a purpose, love begins to unfold. Significantly, in the 
Old Testament, the central object of man's love is the poor, 
the stranger, the widow and the orphan, and eventually the 
national enemy, the Egyptian and the Edomite. By having 
compassion for the helpless one, man begins to develop love 
for his brother; and in his love for himself he also loves the 
one who is in need of help, the frail, insecure human being. 
Compassion implies the element of knowledge and of identi- 
fication. "You know the heart of the stranger," says the Old 
Testament, "for you were strangers in the land of Egypt; 
. . . therefore love the stranger!" 12 

11 Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace, G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York, 
1952, p. 117. 

12 The same idea has been expressed by Hermann Cohen in his Re- 
ligion der Vernunft aus den Quellen des Judentums, 2nd edition, J. 
Kaufmann Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, 1929, p. 168 ff. 


b. Motherly Love 

We have already dealt with the nature of motherly love in 
a previous chapter which discussed the difference between 
motherly and fatherly love. Motherly love, as I said there, is 
unconditional affirmation of the child's life and his needs. 
But one important addition to this description must be made 
here. Affirmation of the child's life has two aspects; one is 
the care and responsibility absolutely necessary for the preser- 
vation of the child's life and his growth. The other aspect 
goes further than mere preservation. It is the attitude which 
instills in the child a love for living, which gives him the 
feeling: it is good to be alive, it is good to be a little boy or 
girl, it is good to be on this earth! These two aspects of 
motherly love are expressed very succinctly in the Biblical 
story of creation. God creates the world, and man. This cor- 
responds to the simple care and affirmation of existence. But 
God goes beyond this minimum requirement. On each day 
after nature — and man — is created, God says: "It is good." 
Motherly love, in this second step, makes the child feel : it is 
good to have been born; it instills in the child the love for 
life, and not only the wish to remain alive. The same idea 
may be taken to be expressed in another Biblical symbolism. 
The promised land (land is always a mother symbol) is 
described as "flowing with milk and honey." Milk is the 
symbol of the first aspect of love, that of care and affirma- 
tion. Honey symbolizes the sweetness of life, the love for it 
and the happiness in being alive. Most mothers are capable 
of giving "milk," but only a minority of giving "honey" too. 
In order to be able to give honey, a mother must not only 
be a "good mother," but a happy person — and this aim is 


not achieved by many. The effect on the child can hardly be 
exaggerated. Mother's love for life is as infectious as her 
anxiety is. Both attitudes have a deep effect on the child's 
whole personality; one can distinguish indeed, among chil- 
dren — and adults — those who got only "milk" and those 
who got "milk and honey." 

In contrast to brotherly love and erotic love which are 
love between equals, the relationship of mother and child is 
by its very nature one of inequality, where one needs all the 
help, and the other gives it. It is for this altruistic, unselfish 
character that motherly love has been considered the highest 
kind of love, and the most sacred of all emotional bonds. It 
seems, however, that the real achievement of motherly love 
lies not in the mother's love for the small infant, but in her 
love for the growing child. Actually, the vast majority of 
mothers are loving mothers as long as the infant is small and 
still completely dependent on them. Most women want chil- 
dren, are happy with the new-born child, and eager in their 
care for it. This is so in spite of the fact that they do not 
"get" anything in return from the child, except a smile or the 
expression of satisfaction in his face. It seems that this atti- 
tude of love is partly rooted in an instinctive equipment to 
be found in animals as well as in the human female. But, 
whatever the weight of this instinctive factor may be, there 
are also specifically human psychological factors which are 
responsible for this type of motherly love. One may be found 
in the narcissistic element in motherly love. Inasmuch as the 
infant is still felt to be a part of herself, her love and in- 
fatuation may be a satisfaction of her narcissism. Another 
motivation may be found in a mother's wish for power, or 


possession. The child, being helpless and completely subject 
to her will, is a natural object of satisfaction for a domineer- 
ing and possessive woman. 

Frequent as these motivations are, they are probably less 
important and less universal than one which can be called 
the need for transcendence. This need for transcendence is 
one of the most basic needs of man, rooted in the fact of his 
self-awareness, in the fact that he is not satisfied with the 
role of the creature, that he cannot accept himself as dice 
thrown out of the cup. He needs to feel as the creator, as 
one transcending the passive role of being created. There are 
many ways of achieving this satisfaction of creation; the 
most natural and also the easiest one to achieve is the 
mother's care and love for her creation. She transcends her- 
self in the infant, her love for it gives her life meaning and 
significance. (In the very inability of the male to satisfy his 
need for transcendence by bearing children lies his urge to 
transcend himself by the creation of man-made things and 
of ideas. ) 

But the child must grow. It must emerge from mother's 
womb, from mother's breast; it must eventually become a 
completely separate human being. The very essence of 
motherly love is to care for the child's growth, and that 
means to want the child's separation from herself. Here lies 
the basic difference to erotic love. In erotic love, two people 
who were separate become one. In motherly love, two people 
who were one become separate. The mother must not only 
tolerate, she must wish and support the child's separation. It 
is only at this stage that motherly love becomes such a dif- 
ficult task, that it requires unselfishness, the ability to give 


everything and to want nothing but the happiness of the 
loved one. It is also at this stage that many mothers fail in 
their task of motherly love. The narcissistic, the domineer- 
ing, the possessive woman can succeed in being a "loving" 
mother as long as the child is small. Only the really loving 
woman, the woman who is happier in giving than in taking, 
who is firmly rooted in her own existence, can be a loving 
mother when the child is in the process of separation. 

Motherly love for the growing child, love which wants 
nothing for oneself, is perhaps the most difficult form of love 
to be achieved, and all the more deceptive because of the 
ease with which a mother can love her small infant. But just 
because of this difficulty, a woman can be a truly loving 
mother only if she can love; if she is able to love her hus- 
band, other children, strangers, all human beings. The 
woman who is not capable of love in this sense can be an 
affectionate mother as long as the child is small, but she 
cannot be a loving mother, the test of which is the willing- 
ness to bear separation— and even after the separation to go 
on loving. 

c. Erotic Love 

Brotherly love is love among equals; motherly love is love 
for the helpless. Different as they are from each other, they 
have in common that they are by their very nature not re- 
stricted to one person. If I love my brother, I love all my 
brothers; if I love my child, I love all my children; no, 
beyond that, I love all children, all that are in need of my 
help. In contrast to both types of love is erotic love; it is the 
craving for complete fusion, for union with one other per- 


|>n. It is by its very nature exclusive and not universal; it is 
so perhaps the most deceptive form of love there is. 
First of all, it is often confused with the explosive experi- 
liice of "falling" in love, the sudden collapse of the barriers 
jtyhich existed until that moment between two strangers. But, 
tS was pointed out before, this experience of sudden intimacy 
by its very nature short-lived. After the stranger has be- 
pme an intimately known person there are no more barriers 
be overcome, there is no more sudden closeness to be 
chieved. The "loved" person becomes as well known as 
|neself. Or, perhaps I should better say as little known. If 
ere were more depth in the experience of the other person, 
|f one could experience the infiniteness of his personality, the 
|ther person would never be so familiar — and the miracle of 
||)vercoming the barriers might occur every day anew. But for 
lost people their own person, as well as others, is soon ex- 
plored and soon exhausted. For them intimacy is established 
l^imarily through sexual contact. Since they experience the 
gseparateness of the other person primarily as physical sepa- 
Jp'ateness, physical union means overcoming separateness. 

Beyond that, there are other factors which to many people 
jftenote the overcoming of separateness. To speak of one's 
p^wn personal life, one's hopes and anxieties, to show oneself 
|with one's childlike or childish aspects, to establish a com- 
mon interest vis-a-vis the world — all this is taken as over- 
Itoming separateness. Even to show one's anger, one's hate, 
one's complete lack of inhibition is taken for intimacy, and 
I this may explain the perverted attraction married couples 
|| dften have for each other, who seem intimate only when they 
are in bed or when they give vent to their mutual hate and 


rage. But all these types of closeness tend to become reduced 
more and more as time goes on. The consequence is one 
seeks love with a new person, with a new stranger. Again the 
stranger is transformed into an "intimate" person, again the 
experience of falling in love is exhilarating and intense, and 
again it slowly becomes less and less intense, and ends in the 
wish for a new conquest, a new love — always with the illu- 
sion that the new love will be different from the earlier ones. 
These illusions are greatly helped by the deceptive character 
of sexual desire. 

Sexual desire aims at fusion — and is by no means only a 
physical appetite, the relief of a painful tension. But sexual 
desire can be stimulated by the anxiety of aloneness, by the 
wish to conquer or be conquered, by vanity, by the wish to 
hurt and even to destroy, as much as it can be stimulated 
by love. It seems that sexual desire can easily blend with and 
be stimulated by any strong emotion, of which love is only 
one. Because sexual desire is in the minds of most people 
coupled with the idea of love, they are easily misled to con- 
clude that they love each other when they want each other 
physically. Love can inspire the wish for sexual union; in 
this case the physical relationship is lacking in greediness, in 
a wish to conquer or to be conquered, but is blended with 
tenderness. If the desire for physical union is not stimulated 
by love, if erotic love is not also brotherly love, it never leads 
to union in more than an orgiastic, transitory sense. Sexual 
attraction creates, for the moment, the illusion of union, yet 
without love this "union" leaves strangers as far apart as 
they were before — sometimes it makes them ashamed of each 
other, or even makes them hate each other, because when 


the illusion has gone they feel their estrangement even more 
markedly than before. Tenderness is by no means, as Freud 
believed, a sublimation of the sexual instinct; it is the direct 
outcome of brotherly love, and exists in physical as well as 
in non-physical forms of love. 

In erotic love there is an exclusiveness which is lacking in 
brotherly love and motherly love. This exclusive character of 
erotic love warrants some further discussion. Frequently the 
exclusiveness of erotic love is misinterpreted as meaning pos- 
sessive attachment. One can often find two people "in love" 
with each other who feel no love for anybody else. Their 
love is, in fact, an egotism a deux; they are two people who 
identify themselves with each other, and who solve the prob- 
lem of separateness by enlarging the single individual into 
two. They have the experience of overcoming aloneness, yet, 
since they are separated from the rest of mankind, they re- 
main separated from each other and alienated from them- 
selves; their experience of union is an illusion. Erotic love is 
exclusive, but it loves in the other person all of mankind, all 
that is alive. It is exclusive only in the sense that I can fuse 
myself fully and intensely with one person only. Erotic love 
excludes the love for others only in the sense of erotic fusion, 
full commitment in all aspects of life — but not in the sense 
of deep brotherly love. 

Erotic love, if it is love, has one premise. That I love from 
the essence of my being — and experience the other person 
in the essence of his or her being. In essence, all human be- 
ings are identical. We are all part of One; we are One. This 
being so, it should not make any difference whom we love. 
Love should be essentially an act of will, of decision to com- 


mit my life completely to that of one other person. This is, 
indeed, the rationale behind- the idea of the insolubility of 
marriage, as it is behind the many forms of traditional mar- 
riage in which the two partners never choose each other, 
but are chosen for each other — and yet are expected to love 
each other. In contemporary Western culture this idea ap- 
pears altogether false. Love is supposed to be the outcome of 
a spontaneous, emotional reaction, of suddenly being gripped 
by an irresistible feeling. In this view, one sees only the 
peculiarities of the two individuals involved — and not the 
fact that all men are part of Adam, and all women part of 
Eve. One neglects to see an important factor in erotic love, 
that of will. To love somebody is not just a strong feeling — it 
is a decision, it is a judgment, it is a promise. If love were 
only a feeling, there would be no basis for the promise to 
love each other forever. A feeling comes and it may go. How 
can I judge that it will stay forever, when my act does not 
involve judgment and decision? 

Taking these views into account one may arrive at the 
position that love is exclusively an act of will and com- 
mitment, and that therefore fundamentally it does not 
matter who the two persons are. Whether the marriage was 
arranged by others, or the result of individual choice, once 
the marriage is concluded, the act of will should guarantee 
the continuation of love. This view seems to neglect the para- 
doxical character of human nature and of erotic love. We 
are all One — yet every one of us is a unique, unduplicable 
entity. In our relationships to others the same paradox is 
repeated. Inasmuch as we are all one, we can love everybody 
in the same way in the sense of brotherly love. But inasmuch 


as we are all also different, erotic love requires certain specific, 
highly individual elements which exist between some people 
but not between all. 

Both views then, that of erotic love as completely indi- 
vidual attraction, unique between two specific persons, as 
well as the other view that erotic love is nothing but an act 
of will, are true — or, as it may be put more aptly, the truth 
is neither this nor that. Hence the idea of a relationship 
which can be easily dissolved if one is not successful with it 
is as erroneous as the idea that under no circumstances must 
the relationship be dissolved. 

d. Self-Love 13 

While it raises no objection to apply the concept of love 
to various objects, it is a widespread belief that, while it is 
virtuous to love others, it is sinful to love oneself. It is as- 
sumed that to the degree to which I love myself I do not 
love others, that self-love is the same as selfishness. This view 
goes far back in Western thought. Calvin speaks of self-love 
as "a pest." 14 Freud speaks of self-love in psychiatric terms 

13 Paul Tillich, in a review of The Sane Society, in Pastoral Psy- 
chology, September, 1955, has suggested that it would be better to 
drop the ambiguous term "self-love" and to replace it with "natural 
self-affirmation" or "paradoxical self-acceptance." Much as I can see 
the merits of this suggestion, I cannot agree with him in this point. In 
the term "self-love" the paradoxical element in self-love is contained 
more clearly. The fact is expressed that love is an attitude which is the 
same toward all objects, including myself. It must also not be forgotten 
that the term "self-love," in the sense in which it is used here, has a 
history. The Bible speaks of self-love when it commands to "love thy 
neighbor as thyself/' and Meister Eckhart speaks of self-love in the 
very same sense. 

14 John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, translated by J. 
Albau, Presbyterian Board of Christian Education, Philadelphia, 1928, 
Chap. 7, par. 4, p. 622. 


but, nevertheless, his value judgment is the same as that of 
Calvin. For him self-love is the same as narcissism, the 
turning of the libido toward oneself. Narcissism is the earliest 
stage in human development, and the person who in later 
life has returned to this narcissistic stage is incapable of love; 
in the extreme case he is insane. Freud assumes that love is 
the manifestation of libido, and that the libido is either 
turned toward others — love; or toward oneself — self-love. 
Love and self-love are thus mutually exclusive in the sense 
that the more there is of one, the less there is of the other. 
If self-love is bad, it follows that unselfishness is virtuous. 

These questions arise: Does psychological observation 
support the thesis that there is a basic contradiction between 
love for oneself and love for others? Is love for oneself the 
same phenomenon as selfishness, or are they opposites? Fur- 
thermore, is the selfishness of modern man really a concern 
for himself as an individual, with all his intellectual, emo- 
tional and sensual potentialities? Has "he" not become an 
appendage of his socio-economic role? Is his selfishness iden- 
tical with self-love or is it not caused by the very lack of it? 

Before we start the discussion of the psychological aspect 
of selfishness and self-love, the logical fallacy in the notion 
that love for others and love for oneself are mutually exclu- 
sive should be stressed. If it is a virtue to love my neighbor 
as a human being, it must be a virtue — and not a vice — to 
love myself, since I am a human being too. There is no con- 
cept of man in which I myself am not included. A doctrine 
which proclaims such an exclusion proves itself to be in- 
trinsically contradictory. The idea expressed in the Biblical 
"Love thy neighbor as thyself!" implies that respect for one's 


own integrity and uniqueness, love for and understanding of 
one's own self, cannot be separated from respect and love 
and understanding for another individual. The love for my 
own self is inseparably connected with the love for any other 

We have come now to the basic psychological premises on 
which the conclusions of our argument are built. Generally, 
these premises are as follows: not only others, but we our- 
selves are the "object" of our feelings and attitudes; the 
attitudes toward others and toward ourselves, far from being 
contradictory, are basically conjunctive. With regard to the 
problem under discussion this means : love of others and love 
of ourselves are not alternatives. On the contrary, an attitude 
of love toward themselves will be found in all those who are 
capable of loving others. Love, in principle, is indivisible as 
far as the connection between "objects" and one's own self 
is concerned. Genuine love is an expression of productive- 
ness and implies care, respect, responsibility and knowledge. 
It is not an "affect" in the sense of being affected by some- 
body, but an active striving for the growth and happiness 
of the loved person, rooted in one's own capacity to love. 

To love somebody is the actualization and concentration 
of the power to love. The basic affirmation contained in love 
is directed toward the beloved person as an incarnation of 
essentially human qualities. Love of one person implies love 
of man as such. The kind of "division of labor," as William 
James calls it, by which one loves one's family but is without 
feeling for the "stranger," is a sign of a basic inability to 
love. Love of man is not, as is frequently supposed, an ab- 
straction coming after the love for a specific person, but it 


is its premise, although genetically it is acquired in loving 
specific individuals. 

From this it follows that my own self must be as much an 
object of my love as another person. The affirmation of one's 
own life, happiness, growth, freedom is rooted in one's 
capacity to love, i.e., in care, respect, responsibility, and 
knowledge. If an individual is able to love productively, he 
loves himself too; if he can love only others, he cannot love 
at all. 

Granted that love for oneself and for others in principle 
is conjunctive, how do we explain selfishness, which obviously 
excludes any genuine concern for others? The selfish person 
is interested only in himself, wants everything for himself, 
feels no pleasure in giving, but only in taking. The world 
outside is looked at only from the standpoint of what he can 
get out of it; he lacks interest in the needs of others, and 
respect for their dignity and integrity. He can see nothing 
but himself; he judges everyone and everything from its 
usefulness to him; he is basically unable to love. Does not 
this prove that concern for others and concern for oneself 
are unavoidable alternatives? This would be so if selfishness 
and self-love were identical. But that assumption is the very 
fallacy which has led to so many mistaken conclusions con- 
cerning our problem. Selfishness and self-love, far from be- 
ing identic al y are actually op posit es. The selfish person does 
not love himself too much but too little; in fact he hates 
himself. This lack of fondness and care for himself, which 
is only one expression of his lack of productiveness, leaves 
him empty and frustrated. He is necessarily unhappy and 
anxiously concerned to snatch from life the satisfactions 


which he blocks himself from attaining. He seems to care too 

j; much for himself, but actually he only makes an unsuccessful 
attempt to cover up and compensate for his failure to care 

| for his real self. Freud holds that the selfish person is nar- 
cissistic, as if he had withdrawn his love from others and 
turned it toward his own person. // is true that selfish per- 

I sons are incapable of loving others, but they are not capable 
of loving themselves either. 

It is easier to understand selfishness by comparing it with 

| greedy concern for others, as we find it, for instance, in an 
oversolicitous mother. While she consciously believes that she 

| is particularly fond of her child, she has actually a deeply 

"repressed hostility toward the object of her concern. She is 
overconcerned not because she loves the child too much, but 

'/because she has to compensate for her lack of capacity to 

I' love him at all. 

This theory of the nature of selfishness is borne out by 
psychoanalytic experience with neurotic "unselfishness/ 5 a 

| symptom of neurosis observed in not a few people who 
usually are troubled not by this symptom but by others con- 

Jnected with it, like depression, tiredness, inability to work, 
failure in love relationships, and so on. Not only is unselfish- 
ness not felt as a "symptom 55 ; it is often the one redeeming 
character trait on which such people pride themselves. The 
"unselfish 35 person "does not want anything for himself 55 ; he 
"lives only for others, 55 is proud that he does not consider 
himself important. He is puzzled to find that in spite of his 
unselfishness he is unhappy, and that his relationships to 
those closest to him are unsatisfactory. Analytic work shows 
that his unselfishness is not something apart from his other 


symptoms but one of them, in fact often the most important 
one; that he is paralyzed in his capacity to love or to enjoy 
anything; that he is pervaded by hostility toward life and 
that behind the fagade of unselfishness a subtle but not less 
intense self-centeredness is hidden. This person can be cured 
only if his unselfishness too is interpreted as a symptom along 
with the others, so that his lack of productiveness, which is 
at the root of both his unselfishness and his other troubles, 
can be corrected. 

The nature of unselfishness becomes particularly apparent 
in its effect on others, and most frequently in our culture in 
the effect the "unselfish" mother has on her children. She 
believes that by her unselfishness her children will experience 
what it means to be loved and to learn, in turn, what it 
means to love. The effect of her unselfishness, however, does 
not at all correspond to her expectations. The children do 
not show the happiness of persons who are convinced that 
they are loved ; they are anxious, tense, afraid of the mother's 
disapproval and anxious to live up to her expectations. 
Usually, they are affected by their mother's hidden hostility 
toward life, which they sense rather than recognize clearly, 
and eventually they become imbued with it themselves. Alto- 
gether, the effect of the "unselfish" mother is not too dif- 
ferent from that of the selfish one; indeed, it is often worse, 
because the mother's unselfishness prevents the children from 
criticizing her. They are put under the obligation not to dis- 
appoint her; they are taught, under the mask of virtue, dis- 
like for life. If one has a chance to study the effect of a 
mother with genuine self-love, one can see that there is 
nothing more conducive to giving a child the experience of 


j|hat love, joy and happiness are than being loved by a 
fjother who loves herself. 

These ideas on self-love cannot be summarized better than 

quoting Meister Eckhart on this topic: "If you love your- 

jfclf, you love everybody else as you do yourself. As long 

you love another person less than you love yourself, you 

fill- not really succeed in loving yourself, but if you love all 

like, including yourself, you will love them as one person 

|ftd that person is both God and man. Thus he is a great 

id righteous person who, loving himself, loves all others 

lually." 15 

fiLbve of God 

It has been stated above that the basis for our need to love 
lies in the experience of separateness and the resulting need 
pQ overcome the anxiety of separateness by the experience of 
anion. The religious form of love, that which is called the 
Rove of God, is, psychologically speaking, not different. It 
Bprings from the need to overcome separateness and to 
Iftchieve union. In fact, the love of God has as many different 
feualities and aspects as the love of man has — and to a large 
f{ Extent we find the same differences. 

In all theistic religions, whether they are polytheistic or 
pinonotheistic, God stands for the highest value, the most de- 
ll, sirable good. Hence, the specific meaning of God depends on 
fcwhat is the most desirable good for a person. The under- 
standing of the concept of God must, therefore, start with an 
;kftalysis of the character structure of the person who wor- 
ships God. 

|f 15 Meister Eckhart, translated by R, B. Blakney, Harper & Brothers, 
New York, 1941, p. 204. 


The development of the human race as far as we have 
any knowledge of it can be characterized as the emergence 
of man from nature, from mother, from the bonds of blood 
and soil. In the beginning of human history man, though 
thrown out of the original unity with nature, still clings to 
these primary bonds. He finds his security by going back, or 
holding on to these primary bonds. He still feels identified 
with the world of animals and trees, and tries to find unity 
by remaining one with the natural world. Many primitive 
religions bear witness to this stage of development. An animal 
is transformed into a totem; one wears animal masks in the 
most solemn religious acts, or in war; one worships an animal 
as God. At a later stage of development, when human skill 
has developed to the point of artisan and arti$tic skill, when 
man is not dependent any more exclusively on the gifts of 
nature — the fruit he finds and the animal he kills — man 
transforms the product of his own hand into a god. This is 
the stage of the worship of idols made of clay, silver or gold. 
Man projects his own powers and skills into the things he 
makes, and thus in an alienated fashion worships his prowess, 
his possessions. At a still later stage man gives his gods the 
form of human beings. It seems that this can happen only 
when he has become still more aware of himself, and when 
he has discovered man as the highest and most dignified 
"thing" in the world. In this phase of anthropomorphic god 
worship we find a development in two dimensions. The one 
refers to the female or male nature of the gods, the other to 
the degree of maturity which man has achieved, and which 
determines the nature of his gods and the nature of his love 
of them. 


Let us first speak of the development from mother-centered 
to father-centered religions. According to the great and de- 
cisive discoveries of Bachofen and Morgan in the middle of 
the nineteenth century, and in spite of the rejection their 
findings have found in most academic circles, there can be 
little doubt that there was a matriarchal phase of religion 
preceding the patriarchal one, at least in many cultures. In 
the matriarchal phase, the highest being is the mother. She is 
the goddess, she is also the authority in family and society. 
In order to understand the essence of matriarchal religion, 
we have only to remember what has been said about the 
essence of motherly love. Mother's love is unconditional, it 
is all-protective, all-enveloping; because it is unconditional 
it can also not be controlled or acquired. Its presence gives 
the loved person a sense of bliss ; its absence produces a sense 
of lostness and utter despair. Since mother loves her children 
because they are her children, and not because they are 
"good," obedient, or fulfill her wishes and commands, 
[' mother's love is based on equality. All men are equal, be- 
cause they all are children of a mother, because they all are 
children of Mother Earth. 

The next stage of human evolution, the only one of which 
we have thorough knowledge and do not need to rely on in- 
ferences and reconstruction, is the patriarchal phase. In this 
phase the mother is dethroned from her supreme position, 
and the father becomes the Supreme Being, in religion as 
well as in society. The nature of fatherly love is that he makes 
demands, establishes principles and laws, and that his love 
for the son depends on the obedience of the latter to these 
demands. He likes best the son who is most like him, who is 


most obedient and who is best fitted to become his successor, 
as the inheritor of his possessions. (The development of 
patriarchal society goes together with the development of 
private property.) As a consequence, patriarchal society is 
hierarchical; the equality of the brothers gives way to com- 
petition and mutual strife. Whether we think of the Indian, 
Egyptian or Greek cultures, or of the Jewish- Christian, or 
Islamic religions, we are in the middle of a patriarchal world, 
with its male gods, over whom one chief god reigns, or where 
all gods have been eliminated with the exception of the One, 
the God. However, since the wish for mother's love cannot 
be eradicated from the hearts of man, it is not surprising 
that the figure of the loving mother could never be fully 
driven out from the pantheon. In the Jewish religion, the 
mother aspects of God are reintroduced especially in the 
various currents of mysticism. In the Catholic religion, 
Mother is symbolized by the Church, and by the Virgin. 
Even in Protestantism, the figure of Mother has not been 
entirely eradicated, although she remains hidden. Luther es- 
tablished as his main principle that nothing that man does 
can procure God's love. God's love is Grace, the religious 
attitude is to have faith in this grace, and to make oneself 
small and helpless; no good works can influence God — or 
make God love us, as Catholic doctrines postulated. We can 
recognize here that the Catholic doctrine of good works is 
part of the patriarchal picture ; I can procure father's love by 
obedience and by fulfilling his demands. The Lutheran doc- 
trine, on the other hand, in spite of its manifest patriarchal 
character carries within it a hidden matriarchal element. 
Mother's love cannot be acquired; it is there, or it is not 


there; all I can do is to have faith (as the Psalmist says, 
"Thou hadst let me have faith into my mother's breasts. 3 ' ie ) 
and to transform myself into the helpless, powerless child. 
But it is the peculiarity of Luther's faith that the figure of 
the mother has been eliminated from the manifest picture, 
and replaced by that of the father; instead of the certainty 
] of being loved by mother, intense doubt, hoping against 
hope for unconditional love by father, has become the para- 
mount feature. 

I had to discuss this difference between the matriarchal 
and the patriarchal elements in religion in order to show that 
the character of the love of God depends on the respective 
weight of the matriarchal and the patriarchal aspects of re- 
ligion. The patriarchal aspect makes me love God like a 
father; I assume he is just and strict, that he punishes and 
rewards; and eventually that he will elect me as his favorite 
son; as God elected Abraham-Israel, as Isaac elected Jacob, 
as God elects his favorite nation. In the matriarchal aspect 
of religion, I love God as an all-embracing mother. I have 
faith in her love, that no matter whether I am poor and 
powerless, no matter whether I have sinned, she will love 
me, she will not prefer any other of her children to me; 
whatever happens to me, she will rescue me, will save me, 
will forgive me. Needless to say, my love for God and God's 
love for me cannot be separated. If God is a father, he loves 
me like a son and I love him like a father. If God is mother, 
her and my love are determined by this fact. 
I This difference between the motherly and the fatherly 
\ aspects of the love of God is, however, only one factor in 

■ 16 Psalm 22:9. 


determining the nature of this love; the other factor is the 
degree of maturity reached by the individual, hence in his 
concept of God and in his love for God. 

Since the evolution of the human race shifted from a 
mother-centered to a father-centered structure of society, as 
well as of religion, we can trace the development of a matur- 
ing love mainly in the development of patriarchal religion. 17 
In the beginning of this development we find a despotic, 
jealous God, who considers man, whom he created, as his 
property, and is entitled to do with him whatever he pleases. 
This is the phase of religion in which God drives man out of 
paradise, lest he eat from the tree of knowledge and thus 
could become God himself; this is the phase in which God 
decides to destroy the human race by the flood, because none 
of them pleases him, with the exception of the favorite son, 
Noah; this is the phase in which God demands from Abra- 
ham that he kill his only, his beloved son, Isaac, to prove 
his love for God by the act of ultimate obedience. But 
simultaneously a new phase begins; God makes a covenant 
with Noah, in which he promises never to destroy the human 
race again, a covenant by which he is bound himself. Not 
only is he bound by his promises, he is also bound by his 
own principle, that of justice, and on this basis God must 
yield to Abraham's demand to spare Sodom if there are at 
least ten just men. But the development goes further than 
transforming God from the figure of a despotic tribal chief 

17 This holds true especially for the monotheistic religions of the 
West. In Indian religions the mother figures retained a good deal of 
influence, for instance in the Goddess Kali; in Buddhism and Taoism 
the concept of a God — or a Goddess — was without essential signif- 
icance, if not altogether eliminated. 


into a loving father, into a father who himself is bound by 
the principles which he has postulated; it goes in the direc- 
tion of transforming God from the figure of a father into a 
symbol of his principles, those of justice, truth and love. 
God is truth, God is justice. In this development God ceases 
to be a person, a man, a father; he becomes the symbol of 
the principle of unity behind the manifoldness of phenomena, 
of the vision of the flower which will grow from the spir- 
itual seed within man. God cannot have a name. A name 
always denotes a thing, or a person, something finite. How 
can God have a name, if he is not a person, not a thing? 

The most striking incident of this change lies in the Bib- 
lical story of God's revelation to Moses. When Moses tells 
him that the Hebrews will not believe that God has sent 
him, unless he can tell them God's name (how could idol 
worshipers comprehend a nameless God, since the very 
essence of an idol is to have a name?), God makes a con- 
cession. He tells Moses that his name is "I am becoming 
that which I am becoming." "I-am-becoming is my name." 
The "I-am-becoming" means that God is not finite, not a 
person, not a "being." The most adequate translation of the 
sentence would be: tell them that "my name is nameless." 
The prohibition to make any image of God, to pronounce 
his name in vain, eventually to pronounce his name at all, 
aims at the same goal, that of freeing man from the idea that 
God is a father, that he is a person. Iri the subsequent theo- 
logical development, the idea is carried further in the prin- 
ciple that one must not even give God any positive attribute. 
To say of God that he is wise, strong, good implies again 
that he is a person; the most I can do is to say what God is 


not, to state negative attributes, to postulate that he is not 
limited, not unkind, not unjust. The more I know what God 
is not, the more knowledge I have of God. 18 

Following the maturing idea of monotheism in its further 
consequences can lead only to one conclusion: not to men- 
tion God's name at all, not to speak about God. Then God 
becomes what he potentially is in monotheistic theology, 
the nameless One, an inexpressible stammer, referring to the 
unity underlying the phenomenal universe, the ground of all 
existence; God becomes truth, love, justice. God is I, inas- 
much as I am human. 

Quite evidently this evolution from the anthropomorphic 
to the pure monotheistic principle makes all the difference to 
the nature of the love of God. The God of Abraham can be 
loved, or feared, as a father, sometimes his forgiveness, some- 
times his anger being the dominant aspect. Inasmuch as God 
is the father, I am the child. I have not emerged fully from 
the autistic wish for omniscience and omnipotence. I have 
not yet acquired the objectivity to realize my limitations as 
a human being, my ignorance, my helplessness. I still claim, 
like a child, that there must be a father who rescues me, 
who watches me, who punishes me, a father who likes me 
when I am obedient, who is flattered by my praise and 
angry because of my disobedience. Quite obviously, the 
majority of people have, in their personal development, not 
overcome this infantile stage, and hence the belief in God to 
most people is the belief in a helping father — a childish illu- 
sion. In spite of the fact that this concept of religion has 
been overcome by some of the great teachers of the human 

18 Cf. Maimonides' concept of the negative attributes in The Guide 
for the Perplexed. 


race, and by a minority of men, it is still the dominant form 
bi religion. 

Inasmuch as this is so, the criticism of the idea of God, as 
it was expressed by Freud, is quite correct. The error, how- 
ever, was in the fact that he ignored the other aspect of 
; monotheistic religion, and its true kernel, the logic of which 
leads exactly to the negation of this concept of God. The 
truly religious person, if he follows the essence of the mono- 
theistic idea, does not pray for anything, does not expect 
anything from God; he does not love God as a child loves 
his father or his mother; he has acquired the humility of 
sensing his limitations, to the degree of knowing that he 
knows nothing about God. God becomes to him a symbol in 
which man, at an earlier stage of his evolution, has expressed 
the totality of that which man is striving for, the realm of 
the spiritual world, of love, truth and justice. He has faith 
in the principles which "God" represents; he thinks truth, 
lives love and justice, and considers all of his life only valu- 
able inasmuch as it gives him the chance to arrive at an ever 
fuller unfolding of his human powers — as the only reality 
that matters, as the only object of "ultimate concern"; and, 
| eventually, he does not speak about God — nor even mention 
his name, To love God, if he were going to use this word, 
would mean, then, to long for the attainment of the full 
capacity to love, for the realization of that which "God" 
stands for in oneself. 

From this point of view, the logical consequence of 
monotheistic thought is the negation of all "theo-logy," of 
all "knowledge about God." Yet, there remains a difference 
between such a radical non-theological view and a non- 


theistic system, as we find it, for instance in early Buddhism 
or in Taoism. 

In all theistic systems, even a non-theological, mystical 
one, there is the assumption of the reality of the spiritual 
realm, as one transcending man, giving meaning and validity 
to man's spiritual powers and his striving for salvation and 
inner birth. In a non-theistic system, there exists no spiritual 
realm outside of man or transcending him. The realm of 
love, reason and justice exists as a reality only because, and 
inasmuch as, man has been able to develop these powers in 
himself throughout the process of his evolution. In this view 
there is no meaning to life, except the meaning man himself 
gives to it; man is utterly alone except inasmuch as he helps 

Having spoken of the love of God, I want to make it clear 
that I myself do not think in terms of a theistic concept, and 
that to me the concept of God is only a historically condi- 
tioned one, in which man has expressed his experience of his 
higher powers, his longing for truth and for unity at a given 
historical period. But I believe also that the consequences of 
strict monotheism and a non-theistic ultimate concern with 
the spiritual reality are two views which, though different, 
need not fight each other. 

At this point, however, another dimension of the problem 
of the love of God arises, which must be discussed in order 
to fathom the complexity of the problem. I refer to a funda- 
mental difference in the religious attitude between the East 
(China and India) and the West; this difference can be ex- 
pressed in terms of logical concepts. Since Aristotle, the 
Western world has followed the logical principles of Aris- 


totelian philosophy. This logic is based on the law of identity 
which states that A is A, the law of contradiction (A is not 
non-A) and the law of the excluded middle (A cannot be 
A and non-A, neither A nor non-A). Aristotle explains 
his position very clearly in the following sentence: "It is im- 
possible for the same thing at the same time to belong and 
not to belong to the same thing and in the same respect; and 
whatever other distinctions we might add to meet dialectical 
objections, let them be added. This, then, is the most certain 
of all principles. . . ." 19 

This axiom of Aristotelian logic has so deeply imbued our 
habits of thought that it is felt to be "natural" and self- 
evident, while on the other hand the statement that X is A 
and not A seems to be nonsensical. (Of course, the statement 
refers to the subject X at a given time, not to X now and X 
later, or one aspect of X as against another aspect.) 

In opposition to Aristotelian logic is what one might call 
paradoxical logic, which assumes that A and non-A do not 
exclude each other as predicates of X. Paradoxical logic was 
predominant in Chinese and Indian thinking, in the phi- 
losophy of Heraclitus, and then again, under the name of 
dialectics, it became the philosophy of Hegel, and of Marx. 
The general principle of paradoxical logic has been clearly 
described by Lao-tse. "Words that are strictly true seem to be 
paradoxical" 20 And by Chuang-tzu : "That which is one is 

19 Aristotle, Metaphysics, Book Gamma, 1005b. 20. Quoted from 
Aristotle* s Metaphysics, newly translated by Richard Hope, Columbia 
University Press, New York, 1952. 

20 Lao-tse, The Tdo Teh King, The Sacred Books of the East, ed. 
by F. Max Mueller, Vol. XXXIX, Oxford University Press, London, 
1927, p. 120. 


one. That which. is not-one, is also one." These formulations 
of paradoxical logic are positive : it is and it is not. Another 
formulation is negative: it is neither this nor that. The 
former expression of thought we find in Taoistic thought, in 
Heraclitus and again in Hegelian dialectics; the latter formu- 
lation is frequent in Indian philosophy. 

Although it would transcend the scope of this book to give 
a more detailed description of the difference between Aris- 
totelian and paradoxical logic, I shall mention a few illustra- 
tions in order to make the principle more understandable. 
Paradoxical logic in Western thought has its earliest philo- 
sophical expression in Heraclitus 9 philosophy. He assumes 
the conflict between opposites is the basis of all existence. 
"They do not understand," he says, "that the all-One, con- 
flicting in itself, is identical with itself: conflicting harmony 
as in the bow and in the lyre." 21 Or still more clearly: "We 
go into the same river, and yet not in the same; it is we and 
it is not we" 22 Or "One and the same manifests itself in 
things as living and dead, waking and sleeping, young and 
old." 23 

In Lao-tse's philosophy the same idea is expressed in a 
more poetic form. A characteristic example of Taoist para- 
doxical thinking is the following statement : "Gravity is the 
root of lightness; stillness the ruler of movement." 24 Or "The 
Tao in its regular course does nothing and so there is noth- 

21 W. Capelle, Die Vorsokratiker, Alfred Kroener Verlag, Stuttgart, 
1953, p. 134. (My translation. E. F.) 

22 Ibid., p. 132. 
™ Ibid., p. 133. 

24 Mueller, op. cit., p. 69. 


ing which he does not do." 25 Or "My words are very easy 
to know, and very easy to practice; but there is no one in 
the world who is able to know and able to practice them.' 3 26 
In Taoist thinking, just as in Indian and Socratic thinking, 
the highest step to which thought can lead is to know that 
we do not know. "To know and yet [think] we do not know 
is the highest [attainment] ; not to know [and yet think] we 
do know is a disease. 35 27 It is only a consequence of this 
philosophy that the highest God cannot be named. The ulti- 
mate reality, the ultimate One cannot be caught in words 
or in thoughts. As Lao-tse puts it, "The Tao that can be 
trodden is not the enduring and unchanging Tao. The name 
that can be named is not the enduring and unchanging 
name. 33 28 Or, in a different formulation, "We look at it, and 
we do not see it, and we name it the 'Equable. 3 We listen to 
it, and we do not hear it, and we name it the 'Inaudible.' 
We try to grasp it, and do not get hold of it, and we name 
it 'the Subtle. 5 With these three qualities, it can not be made 
the subject of description ; and hence we blend them together 
and obtain The One. 33 29 And still another formulation of 
the same idea: "He who knows [the Tao] does not [care 
to] speak [about it] ; he who is [however ready to] speak 
about it does not know it. 33 30 

Brahmanic philosophy was concerned with the relation- 
ship between manifoldness ( of phenomena ) and unity 

25 Ibid., p. 79. 

26 ibid., p. 112. 

27 ibid., p. 113. 

28 Ibid., p. 47. 

29 Ibid., p. 57. 
so Ibid., p. 100. 


(Brahman). But paradoxical philosophy is neither in India 
nor in China to be confused with a dualistic standpoint. The 
harmony (unity) consists in the conflicting position from 
which it is made up. "Brahmanical thinking was centered 
from the beginning around the paradox of the simultaneous 
antagonisms — yet — identity of the manifest forces and forms 
of the phenomenal world. . . ." 31 The ultimate power in 
the Universe as well as in man transcends both the con- 
ceptual and the sensual sphere. It is therefore "neither this 
nor thus." But, as Zimmer remarks, "there is no antagonism 
between c real and unreal' in this strictly non-dualistic realiza- 
tion." 32 In their search for unity behind manifoldness, the 
Brahman thinkers came to the conclusion that the perceived 
pair of opposites reflects the nature not of things but of the 
perceiving mind. The perceiving thought must transcend 
itself if it is to attain true reality. Opposition is a category 
of man's mind, not in itself an element of reality. In the 
Rig- Veda the principle is expressed in this form: "I am the 
two, the life force and the life material, the two at once." 
The ultimate consequence of the idea that thought can only 
perceive in contradictions has found an even more drastic 
sequence in Vedantic thinking, which postulates that thought 
— with all its fine distinction — was "only a more subtle hori- 
zon of ignorance, in fact the most subtle of all the deluding 
devices of maya." 33 

Paradoxical logic has a significant bearing on the concept 

31 H. R. Zimmer, Philosophies of India, Pantheon Books, New York, 

3 2 Ibid, 

33 Ibid., p. 424. 


; of God. Inasmuch as God represents the ultimate reality, 

and inasmuch as the human mind perceives reality in con- 

| tradictions, no positive statement can be made of God. In 

; the Vedantas the idea of an omniscient and omnipotent God 

!'■ is considered the ultimate form of ignorance. 34 We see here 
the connection with the namelessness of the Tao, the name- 

' less name of the God who reveals himself to Moses, of the 
"absolute Nothing 55 of Meister Eckhart. Man can only know 
the negation, never the position of ultimate reality. "Mean- 
while man can not know what God is, even though he be 
ever so well aware of what God is not. . . . Thus contented 
with nothing, the mind clamors for the highest good of 
all." 35 For Meister Eckhart, "The Divine One is a negation 
of negations, and a denial of denials. . . . Every creature 
contains a negation: one denies that it is the other." 36 It is 
only a further consequence that God becomes for Meister 
Eckhart "The absolute Nothing," just as the ultimate reality 
is the "En Sof," the Endless One, for the Kabalah. 

I have discussed the difference between Aristotelian and 
paradoxical logic in order to prepare the ground for an im- 
portant difference in the concept of the love of God. The 
teachers of paradoxical logic say that man can perceive 
reality only in contradictions, and can never perceive in 
thought the ultimate reality-unity, the One itself. This led 
to the consequence that one did not seek as the ultimate aim 
to find the answer in thought. Thought can only lead us to 

84 Cf. Zimmer, ibid., p. 424. 

35 Meister Eckhart, translated by R. B. Blakney, Harper & Brothers, 
New York, 1941, p. 114. 

36 Ibid., p. 247. Cf. also the negative theology of Maimonides. 


the knowledge that it cannot give us the ultimate answer. 
The world of thought remains caught in the paradox. The 
only way in which the world can be grasped ultimately lies, 
not in thought, but in the act, in the experience of oneness. 
Thus paradoxical logic leads to the conclusion that the love 
of God is neither the knowledge of God in thought, nor the 
thought of one's love of God, but the act of experiencing the 
oneness with God. 

This leads to the emphasis on the right way of living. All 
of life, every little and every important action, is devoted to 
the knowledge of God, but a knowledge not in right thought, 
but in right action. This can be clearly seen in Oriental re- 
ligions. In Brahmanism as well as in Buddhism and Taoism, 
the ultimate aim of religion is not the right belief, but the 
right action. We find the same emphasis in the Jewish re- 
ligion. There was hardly ever a schism over belief in the 
Jewish tradition (the one great exception, the difference be- 
tween Pharisees and Sadducees, was essentially one of two 
opposite social classes). The emphasis of the Jewish religion 
was (especially from the beginning of our era on) on the 
right way of living, the Halacha (this word actually having 
the same meaning as the Tao) . 

In modern history, the same principle is expressed in the 
thought of Spinoza, Marx and Freud. In Spinoza's philoso- 
phy the emphasis is shifted from the right belief to the right 
conduct of life. Marx stated the same principle when he 
said, "The philosophers have interpreted the world in dif- 
ferent ways — the task is to transform it." Freud's paradoxical 
logic leads him to the process of psychoanalytic therapy, the 
ever deepening experience of oneself. 


From the standpoint of paradoxical logic the emphasis is 
not on thought, but on the act. This attitude had several 
other consequences. First of all, it led to the tolerance which 
we find in Indian and Chinese religious development. If the 
right thought is not the ultimate truth, and not the way to 
salvation, there is no reason to fight others, whose thinking 
has arrived at different formulations. This tolerance is beau- 
tifully expressed in the story of several men who were asked 
to describe an elephant in the dark. One, touching his trunk, 
said "this animal is like a water pipe" ; another, touching 
his ear, said "this animal is like a fan" ; a third, touching 
; his legs, described the animal as a pillar. 

Secondly, the paradoxical standpoint led to the emphasis 
i on transforming man, rather than to the development of 
dogma on the one hand, and science on the other. From the 
; Indian, Chinese and mystical standpoints, the religious task 
of man is not to think right, but to act right, and/or to 
become one with the One in the act of concentrated medita- 

The opposite is true for the main stream of Western 
thought. Since one expected to find the ultimate truth in the 
right thought, major emphasis was on thought, although 
right action was held to be important too. In religious de- 
velopment this led to the formulation of dogmas, endless 
arguments about dogmatic formulations, and intolerance of 
the "non-believer" or heretic. It furthermore led to the 
emphasis on "believing in God" as the main aim of a re- 
ligious attitude. This, of course, did not mean that there 
was not also the concept that one ought to live right. But 


nevertheless, the person who believed in God — even if he 
did not live God — felt himself to be superior to the one 
who lived God, but did not "believe" in him. 

The emphasis on thought has also another and historically 
a very important consequence. The idea that one could find 
the truth in thought led not only to dogma, but also to 
science. In scientific thought, the correct thought is all that 
matters, both from the aspect of intellectual honesty, as well 
as from the aspect of the application of scientific thought to 
practice — that is, to technique. 

In short, paradoxical thought led to tolerance and an 
effort toward self-transformation. The Aristotelian stand- 
point led to dogma and science, to the Catholic Church, and 
to the discovery of atomic energy. 

The consequences of this difference between the two stand- 
points for the problem of the love of God have already been 
explained implicitly, and need only to be summarized briefly. 

In the dominant Western religious system, the love of God 
is essentially the same as the belief in God, in God's exist- 
ence, God's justice, God's love. The love of God is essentially 
a thought experience. In the Eastern religions and in mys- 
ticism, the love of God is an intense feeling experience of 
oneness, inseparably linked with the expression of this love in 
every act of living. The most radical formulation has been 
given to this goal by Meister Eckhart: "If therefore I am 
changed into God and He makes me one with Himself, then, 
by the living God, there is no distinction between us. . . . 
Some people imagine that they are going to see God, that 
they are going to see God as if he were standing yonder, and 
they here, but it is not to be so. God and I: we are one. 



By knowing God I take him to myself. By loving God, I 
penetrate him," 37 

We can return now to an important parallel between the 
love for one's parents and the love for God. The child starts 
out by being attached to his mother as "the ground of all 
being. 55 He feels helpless and needs the all-enveloping love 
of mother. He then turns to father as the new center of his 
affections, father being a guiding principle for thought and 
action; in this stage he is motivated by the need to acquire 
father's praise, and to avoid his displeasure. In the stage of 
full maturity he has freed himself from the person of mother 
and of father as protecting and commanding powers; he has 
established the motherly and fatherly principles in himself. 
He has become his own father and mother; he is father and 
mother. In the history of the human race we see — and can 
anticipate — the same development: from the beginning of 
the love for God as the helpless attachment to a mother 
Goddess, through the obedient attachment to a fatherly God, 
to a mature stage where God ceases to be an outside power, 
where man has incorporated the principles of love and jus- 
tice into himself, where he has become one with God, and 
eventually, to a point where he speaks of God only in a 
poetic, symbolic sense. 

From these considerations it follows that the love for God 
cannot be separated from the love for one's parents. If a per- 
son does not emerge from incestuous attachment to mother, 
clan, nation, if he retains the childish dependence on a 
punishing and rewarding father, or any other authority, he 
cannot develop a more mature love for God; then his re- 

37 Meister Eckhart, op. cit., pp. 181-2. 


ligion is that of the earlier phase of religion, in which 
God was experienced as an all-protective mother or a 
punishing-rewarding father. 

In contemporary religion we find all the phases, from the 
earliest and most primitive development to the highest, still 
present. The word "God" denotes the tribal chief as well as 
the "absolute Nothing.' 5 In the same way, each individual 
retains in himself, in his unconscious, as Freud has shown, 
all the stages from the helpless infant on. The question is to 
what point he has grown. One thing is certain : the nature 
of his love for God corresponds to the nature of his love for 
man, and furthermore, the real quality of his love for God 
and man often is unconscious — covered up and rationalized 
by a more mature thought of what his love is. Love for 
man, furthermore, while directly embedded in his relations 
to his family, is in the last analysis determined by the struc- 
ture of the society in which he lives. If the social structure 
is one of submission to authority — overt authority or the 
anonymous authority of the market and public opinion, his 
concept of God must be infantile and far from the mature 
concept, the seeds of which are to be found in the history 
of monotheistic religion. 


Love and Its Disintegration in 
Contemporary Western Society 

IF LOVE is a capacity of the mature, productive character, 
it follows that the capacity to love in an individual living in 
any given culture depends on the influence this culture has 
on the character of the average person. If we speak about 
love in contemporary Western culture, we mean to ask 
whether the social structure of Western civilization and the 
spirit resulting from it are conducive to the development of 
love. To raise the question is to answer it in the negative. 
No objective observer of our Western life can doubt that 
love — brotherly love, motherly love, and erotic love — is a 
relatively rare phenomenon, and that its place is taken by a 
number of forms of pseudo-love which are in reality so many 
forms of the disintegration of love. 

Capitalistic society is based on the principle of political 
freedom on the one hand, and of the market as the regulator 
of all economic, hence social relations, on the other. The 
commodity market determines the conditions under which 
commodities are exchanged, the labor market regulates the 



acquisition and sale of labor. Both useful things and useful 
human energy and skill are transformed into commodities 
which are exchanged without the use of force and without 
fraud under the conditions of the market. Shoes, useful and 
needed as they may be, have no economic value (exchange 
value) if there is no demand for them on the market; human 
energy and skill are without exchange value if there is no 
demand for them under existing market conditions. The 
owner of capital can buy labor and command it to work for 
the profitable investment of his capital. The owner of labor 
must sell it to capitalists under the existing market condi- 
tions, unless he is to starve. This economic structure is re- 
flected in a hierarchy of values. Capital commands labor; 
amassed things, that which is dead, are of superior value to 
labor, to human powers, to that which is alive. 

This has been the basic structure of capitalism since its 
beginning. But while it is still characteristic of modern capi- 
talism, a number of factors have changed which give con- 
temporary capitalism its specific qualities and which have 
a profound influence on the character structure of modern 
man. As the result of the development of capitalism we 
witness an ever-increasing process of centralization and con- 
centration of capital. The large enterprises grow in size 
continuously, the smaller ones are squeezed out. The owner- 
ship of capital invested in these enterprises is more and more 
separated from the function of managing them. Hundreds of 
thousands of stockholders "own" the enterprise; a managerial 
bureaucracy which is well paid, but which does not own the 
enterprise, manages it. This bureaucracy is less interested in 
making maximum profits than in the expansion of the enter- 


! jprise, and in their own power. The increasing concentration 
of capital and the emergence of a powerful managerial 

I bureaucracy are paralleled by the development of the labor 

I movement. Through the unionization of labor, the indi- 
vidual worker does not have to bargain on the labor market 
by and for himself; he is united in big labor unions, also led 
by a powerful bureaucracy which represents him vis-a-vis the 
industrial colossi. The initiative has been shifted, for better 

I or worse, in the fields of capital as well as in those of labor, 
from the individual to the bureaucracy. An increasing 
number of people cease to be independent, and become de- 

| pendent on the managers of the great economic empires. 
Another decisive feature resulting from this concentration 
of capital, and characteristic of modern capitalism, lies in 
the specific way of the organization of work. Vastly cen- 
tralized enterprises with a radical division of labor lead to 
an organization of work where the individual loses his in- 
dividuality, where he becomes an expendable cog in the 
machine. The human problem of modern capitalism can be 
formulated in this way : 

Modern capitalism needs men who co-operate smoothly 
and in large numbers; who want to consume more and 
more; and whose tastes are standardized and can be easily 
influenced and anticipated. It needs men who feel free and 
independent, not subject to any authority or principle or 
conscience — yet willing to be commanded, to do what is ex- 
pected of them, to fit into the social machine without fric- 
tion; who can be guided without force, led without leaders, 
prompted without aim — except the one to make good, to be 
on the move, to function, to go ahead. 


What is the outcome? Modern man is alienated from 
himself, from his fellow men, and from nature. 1 He has been 
transformed into a commodity, experiences his life forces as 
an investment which must bring him the maximum profit 
obtainable under existing market conditions. Human rela- 
tions are essentially those of alienated automatons, each 
basing his security on staying close to the herd, and not being 
different in thought, feeling or action. While everybody tries 
to be as close as possible to the rest, everybody remains 
utterly alone, pervaded by the deep sense of insecurity, 
anxiety and guilt which always results when human separate- 
ness cannot be overcome. Our civilization offers many pal- 
liatives which help people to be consciously unaware of this 
aloneness: first of all the strict routine of bureaucratized, 
mechanical work, which helps people to remain unaware of 
their most fundamental human desires, of the longing for 
transcendence and unity. Inasmuch as the routine alone does 
not succeed in this, man overcomes his unconscious despair 
by the routine of amusement, the passive consumption of 
sounds and sights offered by the amusement industry; fur- 
thermore by the satisfaction of buying ever new things, 
and soon exchanging them for others. Modern man is ac- 
tually close to the picture Huxley describes in his Brave New 
World: well fed, well clad, satisfied sexually, yet without 
self, without any except the most superficial contact with his 
fellow men, guided by the slogans which Huxley formulated 
so succinctly, such as: "When the individual feels, the com- 

1 Gf. a more detailed discussion of the problem of alienation and of 
the influence of modern society on the character of man in The Sane 
Society, E. Fromm, Rinehart and Company, New York, 1955. 


munity reels"; or "Never put off till tomorrow the fun you 
i can have today," or, as the crowning statement : ""Everybody 
is happy nowadays." Man's happiness today consists in "hav- 
ing fun." Having fun lies in the satisfaction of consuming 
and "taking in" commodities, sights, food, drinks, cigarettes, 
people, lectures, books, movies — all are consumed, swal- 
lowed. The world is one great object for our appetite, a big 
apple, a big bottle, a big breast; we are the sucklers, the 
eternally expectant ones, the hopeful ones — and the eternally 
disappointed ones. Our character is geared to exchange and 
to receive, to barter and to consume; everything, spiritual as 
well as material objects, becomes an object of exchange and 
of consumption. 

The situation as far as love is concerned corresponds, as it 
has to by necessity, to this social character of modern man. 
Automatons cannot love; they can exchange their "person- 
ality packages" and hope for a fair bargain. One of the 
most significant expressions of love, and especially of mar- 
riage with this alienated structure, is the idea of the "team." 
In any number of articles on happy marriage, the ideal 
described is that of the smoothly functioning team. This 
description is not too different from the idea of a smoothly 
functioning employee; he should be "reasonably independ- 
ent," co-operative, tolerant, and at the same time ambitious 
and aggressive. Thus, the marriage counselor tells us, the 
husband should "understand" his wife and be helpful. He 
should comment favorably on her new dress, and on a tasty 
dish. She, in turn, should understand when he comes home 
tired and disgruntled, she should listen attentively when he 
talks about his business troubles, should not be angry but 


understanding when he forgets her birthday. All this kind of 
relationship amounts to is the well-oiled relationship between 
two persons who remain strangers all their lives, who never 
arrive at a "central relationship, 55 but who treat each other 
with courtesy and who attempt to make each other feel better. 

In this concept of love and marriage the main emphasis 
is on finding a refuge from an otherwise unbearable sense 
of aloneness. In "love" one has found, at last, a haven from 
aloneness. One forms an alliance of two against the world, 
and this egoism a deux is mistaken for love and intimacy. 

The emphasis on team spirit, mutual tolerance and so 
forth is a relatively recent development. It was preceded, in 
the years after the First World War, by a concept of love 
in which mutual sexual satisfaction was supposed to be the 
basis for satisfactory love relations, and especially for a happy 
marriage. It was believed that the reasons for the frequent 
unhappiness in marriage were to be found in that the mar- 
riage partners had not made a correct "sexual adjust- 
ment"; the reason for this fault was seen in the ignorance 
regarding "correct" sexual behavior, hence in the faulty 
sexual technique of one or both partners. In order to "cure" 
this fault, and to help the unfortunate couples who could 
not love each other, many books gave instructions and coun- 
sel concerning the correct sexual behavior, and promised 
implicitly or explicitly that happiness and love would follow. 
The underlying idea was that love is the child of sexual 
pleasure, and that if two people learn how to satisfy each 
other sexually, they will love each other. It fitted the general 
illusion of the time to assume that using the right techniques 
is the solution not only to technical problems of industrial 


production, but of all human problems as well. One ignored 
the fact that the contrary of the underlying assumption is 

Love is not the result of adequate sexual satisfaction, but 
sexual happiness— even the knowledge of the so-called sexual 
technique — is the result of love. If aside from everyday ob- 
servation this thesis needed to be proved, such proof can be 
found in ample material of psychoanalytic data. The study 
of the most frequent sexual problems — frigidity in women, 
and the more or less severe forms of psychic impotence in 
men — shows that the cause does not lie in a lack of knowl- 
edge of the right technique, but in the inhibitions which 
make it impossible to love. Fear of or hatred for the other 
sex are at the bottom of those difficulties which prevent a 
person from giving himself completely, from acting spon- 
taneously, from trusting the sexual partner in the immediacy 
and directness of physical closeness. If a sexually inhibited 
person can emerge from fear or hate, and hence become 
capable of loving, his or her sexual problems are solved. If 
not, no amount of knowledge about sexual techniques will 

But while the data of psychoanalytic therapy point to the 
fallacy of the idea that knowledge of the correct sexual 
technique leads to sexual happiness and love, the underlying 
assumption that love is the concomitant of mutual sexual 
satisfaction was largely influenced by the theories of Freud. 
For Freud, love was basically a sexual phenomenon. "Man 
having found by experience that sexual (genital) love af- 
forded him his greatest gratification, so that it became in 
fact a prototype of all happiness to him, must have been 


thereby impelled to seek his happiness further along the path 
of sexual relations, to make genital eroticism the central 
point of his life." 2 The experience of brotherly love is, for 
Freud, an outcome of sexual desire, but with the sexual in- 
stinct being transformed into an impulse with "inhibited 
aim." "Love with an inhibited aim was indeed originally full 
of sensual love, and in man's unconscious mind is so still." 3 
As far as the feeling of fusion, of oneness ("oceanic feel- 
ing"), which is the essence of mystical experience and the 
root of the most intense sense of union with one other person 
or with one's fellow men, is concerned, it was interpreted by 
Freud as a pathological phenomenon, as a regression to a 
state of an early "limitless narcissism." 4 

It is only one step further that for Freud love is in itself 
an irrational phenomenon. The difference between irrational 
love, and love as an expression of the mature personality 
does not exist for him. He pointed out in a paper on trans- 
ference love, 5 that transference love is essentially not different 
from the "normal" phenomenon of love. Falling in love 
always verges on the abnormal, is always accompanied by 
blindness to reality, compulsiveness, and is a transference 
from love objects of childhood. Love as a rational phenome- 
non, as the crowning achievement of maturity, was, to Freud, 
no subject matter for investigation, since it had no real exist- 

However, it would be a mistake to overestimate the influ- 

2 S. Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents, translated by J. Riviere, 
The Hogarth Press, Ltd., London, 1953, p. 69. 
s Ibid., p. 69. 
* Ibid., p. 21. 
5 Freud, Gesamte Werke, London, 1940-52, Vol. X. 


ence of Freud's ideas on the concept that love is the result 
of sexual attraction, or rather that it is the same as sexual 
satisfaction, reflected in conscious feeling. Essentially the 
I causal nexus proceeds the other way around. Freud's ideas 
were partly influenced by the spirit of the nineteenth cen- 
tury; partly they became popular through the prevailing 
spirit of the years after the First World War. Some of the 
factors which influenced both the popular and the Freudian 
concepts were, first, the reaction against the strict mores of 
the Victorian age. The second factor determining Freud's 
theories lies in the prevailing concept of man, which is based 
on the structure of capitalism. In order to prove that capi- 
talism corresponded to the natural needs of man, one had to 
show that man was by nature competitive and full of mutual 
hostility. While economists "proved" this in terms of the 
insatiable desire for economic gain, and the Darwinists in 
terms of the biological law of the survival of the fittest, Freud 
came to the same result by the assumption that man is 
driven by a limitless desire for the sexual conquest of all 
women, and that only the pressure of society prevented man 
from acting on his desires. As a result men are necessarily 
jealous of each other, and this mutual jealousy and competi- 
tion would continue even if all social and economic reasons 
for it would disappear. 6 

Eventually, Freud was largely influenced in his thinking 
by the type of materialism prevalent in the nineteenth 

6 The only pupil of Freud who never separated from the master, and 
yet who in the last years of his life changed his views on love, was 
Sandor FerenczL For an excellent discussion on this subject see The 
Leaven of Love by Izette de Forest, Harper & Brothers, New York, 


century. One believed that the substratum of all mental 
phenomena was to be found in physiological phenomena ; 
hence love, hate, ambition, jealousy were explained by Freud 
as so many outcomes of various forms of the sexual instinct. 
He did not see that the basic reality lies in the totality of 
human existence, first of all in the human situation common 
to all men, and secondly in the practice of life determined 
by the specific structure of society. (The decisive step beyond 
this type of materialism was taken by Marx in his "historical 
materialism," in which not the body, nor an instinct like the 
need for food or possession, serves as the key to the under- 
standing of man, but the total life process of man, his "prac- 
tice of life"). According to Freud, the full and uninhibited 
satisfaction of all instinctual desires would create mental 
health and happiness. But the obvious clinical facts demon- 
strate that men— and women — who devote their lives to un- 
restricted sexual satisfaction do not attain happiness, and 
very often suffer from severe neurotic conflicts or symptoms. 
The complete satisfaction of all instinctual needs is not only 
not a basis for happiness, it does not even guarantee sanity. 
Yet Freud's idea could only have become so popular in the 
period after the First World War because of the changes 
which had occurred in the spirit of capitalism, from the 
emphasis on saving to that on spending, from self-frustration 
as a means for economic success to consumption as the basis 
for an ever- widening market, and as the main satisfaction 
for the anxious, automatized individual. Not to postpone the 
satisfaction of any desire became the main tendency in the 
sphere of sex as well as in that of all material consumption. 
It is interesting to compare the concepts of Freud, which 


Correspond to the spirit of capitalism as it existed, yet un- 
broken, around the beginning of this century, with the theo- 
retical concepts of one of the most brilliant contemporary 
^psychoanalysts, the late H. S. Sullivan. In Sullivan's psycho- 
parialytic system we find, in contrast to Freud's, a strict 
|fdivision between sexuality and love. 

What is the meaning of love and intimacy in Sullivan's 
If&ohcept? "Intimacy is that type of situation involving two 
people which permits validation of all components of per- 
gonal worth. Validation of personal worth requires a type of 
fj relationship which I call collaboration, by which I mean 
ijitlearly formulated adjustments of one's behavior to the ex- 
pressed needs of the other person in pursuit of increasingly 
^identical — that is, more and more nearly mutual satisfac- 
| tions, and in the maintenance of increasingly similar security 
operations." 7 If we free Sullivan's statement from its some- 
what involved language, the essence of love is seen in a situa- 
tion of collaboration, in which two people feel: "We play 
according to the rules of the game to preserve our prestige 
and feeling of superiority and merit." 8 

Just as Freud's concept of love is a description of the ex- 

7 H. S, Sullivan, The Interpersonal Theory of Psychiatry 3 W. W. 
Norton Co., New York, 1953, p. 246. It must be noted that although 
Sullivan gives this definition in connection with the strivings of pre- 
adolescence, he speaks of them as integrating tendencies, coming out 
during pre-adolescence, "which when they are completely developed, 
we call love," and says that this love in pre-adolescence "represents the 
beginning of something very like full-blown, psychiatrically defined 

8 Ibid., p. 246. Another definition of love by Sullivan, that love 
begins when a person feels another person's needs to be as important 
as his own, is less colored by the marketing aspect than the above 


perience of the patriarchal male in terms of nineteenth-cen- 
tury capitalism, Sullivan's description refers to the experience 
of the alienated, marketing personality of the twentieth cen- 
tury. It is a description of an "egotism a deux" of two 
people pooling their common interests, and standing together 
against a hostile and alienated world. Actually his definition 
of intimacy is in principle valid for the feeling of any co- 
operating team, in which everybody "adjusts his behavior to 
the expressed needs of the other person in the pursuit of 
common aims" (it is remarkable that Sullivan speaks here 
of expressed needs, when the least one could say about love 
is that it implies a reaction to unexpressed needs between 
two people). 

Love as mutual sexual satisfaction, and love as "team- 
work" and as a haven from aloneness, are the two "normal" 
forms of the disintegration of love in modern Western so- 
ciety, the socially patterned pathology of love. There are 
many individualized forms of the pathology of love, which 
result in conscious suffering and which are considered neu- 
rotic by psychiatrists and an increasing number of laymen 
alike. Some of the more frequent ones are briefly described 
in the following examples. 

The basic condition for neurotic love lies in the fact that 
one or both of the "lovers" have remained attached to the 
figure of a parent, and transfer the feelings, expectations 
and fears one once had toward father or mother to the loved 
person in adult life ; the persons involved have never emerged 
from a pattern of infantile relatedness, and seek for this pat- 
tern in their affective demands in adult life. In these cases, 
the person has remained, affectively, a child of two, or of 


I'five, or of twelve, while intellectually and socially he is on 
I the level of his chronological age. In the more severe cases, 
\ this emotional immaturity leads to disturbances in his social 
j effectiveness; in the less severe ones, the conflict is limited 
["to 1 the sphere of intimate personal relationships. 

Referring to our previous discussion of the mother- or 
I father-centered personality, the following example for this 
type of neurotic love relation to be found frequently today 
fleals with men who in their emotional development have 
■remained stuck in an infantile attachment to mother. These 
i'ja're men who have never been weaned as it were from 
mother. These men still feel like children; they want mother's 
protection, love, warmth, care, and admiration; they want 
mother's unconditional love, a love which is given for no 
other reason than that they need it, that they are mother's 
child, that they are helpless. Such men frequently are quite 
affectionate and charming if they try to induce a woman to 
love them, and even after they have succeeded in this. But 
their relationship to the woman (as, in fact, to all other 
people) remains superficial and irresponsible. Their aim is 
to be loved, not to love. There is usually a good deal of 
vanity in this type of man, more or less hidden grandiose 
ideas. If they have found the right woman, they feel secure, 
on top of the world, and can display a great deal of affection 
and charm, and this is the reason why these men are often 
so deceptive. But when, after a while, the woman does not 
continue to live up to their phantastic expectations, conflicts 
and resentment start to develop. If the woman is not always 
admiring them, if she makes claims for a life of her own, if 
She wants to be loved and protected herself, and in extreme 


cases, if she is not willing to condone his love affairs with 
other women (or even have an admiring interest in them), 
the man feels deeply hurt and disappointed, and usually 
rationalizes this feeling with the idea that the woman "does 
not love him, is selfish, or is domineering." Anything short 
of the attitude of a loving mother toward a charming child 
is taken as proof of a lack of love. These men usually confuse 
their affectionate behavior, their wish to please, with genuine 
love and thus arrive at the conclusion that they are being 
treated quite unfairly; they imagine themselves to be the 
great lovers and complain bitterly about the ingratitude of 
their love partner. 

In rare cases such a mother-centered person can function 
without any severe disturbances. If his mother, in fact, 
"loved" him in an overprotective manner (perhaps being 
domineering, but without being destructive), if he finds a 
wife of the same motherly type, if his special gifts and talents 
permit him to use his charm and be admired (as is the case 
sometimes with successful politicians), he is "well adjusted" 
in a social sense, without ever reaching a higher level of 
maturity. But under less favorable conditions — and these are 
naturally more frequent — his love life, if not his social life, 
will be a serious disappointment; conflicts, and frequently in- 
tense anxiety and depression arise when this type of person- 
ality is left alone. 

In a still more severe form of pathology the fixation to 
mother is deeper and more irrational. On this level, the wish 
is not, symbolically speaking, to return to mother's protect- 
ing arms, nor to her nourishing breast, but to her all-receiv- 
ing — and all-destroying — womb. If the nature of sanity is 


I to grow out of the womb into the world, the nature of severe 
mental disease is to be attracted by the womb, to be sucked 
back into it — and that is to be taken away from life. This 
kind of fixation usually occurs in relation to mothers who 
relate themselves to their children in this swallowing-destroy- 
ing way. Sometimes in the name of love, sometimes of duty, 
they want to keep the child, the adolescent, the man, within 
them; he should not be able to breathe but through them; 
not be able to love, except on a superficial sexual level — de- 
grading all other women; he should not be able to be free 
and independent but an eternal cripple or a criminal. 

This aspect of mother, the destructive, engulfing one, is 
the negative aspect of the mother figure. Mother can give 
life, and she can take life. She is the one to revive, and the 
one to destroy; she can do miracles of love — and nobody can 
hurt more than she. In religious images (such as the Hindu 
goddess Kali) and in dream symbolism the two opposite 
aspects of mother can often be found. 

A different form of neurotic pathology is to be found in 
such cases where the main attachment is that to father. 

A case in point is a man whose mother is cold and aloof, 
while his father (partly as a result of his wife's coldness) 
concentrates all his affection and interest on the son. He is a 
"good father," but at the same time authoritarian. When- 
ever he is pleased with the son's conduct he praises him, 
gives him presents, is affectionate; whenever the son dis- 
pleases him, he withdraws, or scolds. The son, for whom 
father's affection is the only one he has, becomes attached to 
father in a slavish way. His main aim in life is to please 
father — and when he succeeds he feels happy, secure and 


satisfied. But when he makes a mistake, fails, or does not 
succeed in pleasing father, he feels deflated, unloved, . cast 
out. In later life such a man will try to find a father figure 
to whom he attaches himself in a similar fashion. His whole 
life becomes a sequence of ups and downs, depending on 
whether he has succeeded in winning father's praise. Such 
men are often very successful in their social careers. They are 
conscientious, reliable, eager — provided their chosen father 
image understands how to handle them. But in their relation- 
ships to women they remain aloof and distant. The woman 
is of no central significance to them; they usually have a 
slight contempt for her, often masked as the fatherly concern 
for a little girl. They may have impressed a woman initially 
by their masculine quality, but they become increasingly dis- 
appointing, when the woman they marry discovers that she 
is destined to play a secondary role to the primary affection 
for the father figure who is prominent in the husband's life 
at any given time; that is, unless the wife happens to have 
remained attached to her father — and thus is happy with a 
husband who relates to her as to a capricious child. 

More complicated is the kind of neurotic disturbance in 
love which is based on a different kind of parental situation, 
occurring when parents do not love each other, but are too 
restrained to quarrel or to indicate any signs of dissatisfac- 
tion outwardly. At the same time, remoteness makes them 
also unspontaneous in their relationship to their children. 
What a little girl experiences is an atmosphere of "correct- 
ness," but one which never permits a close contact with 
either father or mother, and hence leaves the girl puzzled 
and afraid. She is never sure of what the parents feel or 


think; there is always an element of the unknown, the mys- 
terious, in the atmosphere. As a result the girl withdraws 
I into a world of her own, day-dreams, remains remote, and 
retains the same attitude in her love relationships later on. 

Furthermore the withdrawal results in the development of 
intense anxiety, a feeling of not being firmly grounded in the 
world, and often leads to masochistic tendencies as the only 
way to experience intense excitement. Often such women 
would prefer having the husband make a scene and shout, to 
his maintaining a more normal and sensible behavior, be- 
cause at least it would take away the burden of tension and 
I fear from them; not so rarely they unconsciously provoke 
such behavior, in order to end the tormenting suspense of 
affective neutrality. 

Other frequent forms of irrational love are described in 
the following paragraphs, without going into an analysis of 
the specific factors in childhood development which are at 
their roots : 

A form of pseudo-love which is not infrequent and is often 
experienced (and more often described in moving pictures 
and novels) as the "great love" is idolatrous love. If a person 
has not reached the level where he has a sense of identity, of 
I-ness, rooted in the productive unfolding of his own powers, 
he tends to "idolize" the loved person. He is alienated from 
his own powers and projects them into the loved person, 
who is worshiped as the summum bonum, the bearer of all 
love, all light, all bliss. In this process he deprives himself of 
all sense of strength, loses himself in the loved one instead 
of finding himself. Since usually no person can, in the long 
run, live up to the expectations of her (or his) idolatrous 


worshiper, disappointment is bound to occur, and as a 
remedy a new idol is sought for, sometimes in an unending 
circle. What is characteristic for this type of idolatrous love 
is, at the beginning, the intensity and suddenness of the love 
experience. This idolatrous love is often described as the 
true, great love; but while it is meant to portray the intensity 
and depth of love, it only demonstrates the hunger and 
despair of the idolator. Needless to say it is not rare that two 
persons find each other in a mutual idolatry which, some- 
times, in extreme cases, represents the picture of a folie a 

Another form of pseudo-love is what may be called "senti- 
mental love" Its essence lies in the fact that love is ex- 
perienced only in phantasy and not in the here-and-now 
relationship to another person who is real. The most wide- 
spread form of this type of love is that to be found in the 
vicarious love satisfaction experienced by the consumer of 
screen pictures, magazine love stories and love songs. All the 
unfulfilled desires for love, union, and closeness find their 
satisfaction in the consumption of these products. A man 
and a woman who in relation to their spouses are incapable 
of ever penetrating the wall of separateness are moved to 
tears when they participate in the happy or unhappy love 
story of the couple on the screen. For many couples, seeing 
these stories on the screen is the only occasion on which they 
experience love — not for each other, but together, as spec- 
tators of other people's "love." As long as love is a day 
dream, they can participate; as soon as it comes down to the 
reality of the relationship between two real people — they are 


Another aspect of sentimental love is the abstractification 
of love in terms of time. A couple may be deeply moved 
by memories of their past love, although when this past 
was present no love was experienced — or the phantasies of 
their future love. How many engaged or newly married 
couples dream of their bliss of love to take place in the 
future, while at the very moment at which they live they are 
already beginning to be bored with each other? This tend- 
ency coincides with a general attitude characteristic of 
modern man. He lives in the past or in the future, but not 
in the present. He remembers sentimentally his childhood 
and his mother — or he makes happy plans for the future. 
Whether love is experienced vicariously by participating in 
the fictitious experiences of others, or whether it is shifted 
away from the present to the past or the future, this ab- 
stractified and alienated form of love serves as an opiate 
which alleviates the pain of reality, the aloneness and sepa- 
rateness of the individual. 

Still another form of neurotic love lies in the use of pro- 
jective mechanisms for the purpose of avoiding one's own 
problems, and being concerned with the defects and frail- 
ties of the "loved" person instead. Individuals behave in 
this respect very much as groups, nations or religions do. 
They have a fine appreciation for even the minor shortcom- 
ings of the other person, and go blissfully ahead ignoring 
their own — always busy trying to accuse or to reform the 
other person. If two people both do it — as is so often the 
case-^-the relationship of love becomes transformed into one 
of mutual projection. If I am domineering or indecisive, 
or greedy, I accuse my partner of it, and depending on my 


character, I either want to cure him or to punish him. The 
other person does the same — and both thus succeed in ignor- 
ing their own problems and hence fail to undertake any 
steps which would help them in their own development. 

Another form of projection is the projection of one's 
own problems on the children. First of all such projection 
takes place not infrequently in the wish for children. In such 
cases the wish for children is primarily determined by project- 
ing one's own problem of existence on that of the children. 
When a person feels that he has not been able to make sense 
of his own life, he tries to make sense of it in terms of the 
life of his children. But one is bound to fail within oneself 
and for the children. The former because the problem of 
existence can be solved by each one only for himself, and 
not by proxy; the latter because one lacks in the very qualities 
which one needs to guide the children in their own search 
for an answer. Children serve for projective purposes also 
when the question arises of dissolving an unhappy marriage. 
The stock argument of parents in such a situation is that 
they cannot separate in order not to deprive the children of 
the blessings of a unified home. Any detailed study would 
show, however, that the atmosphere of tension and unhap- 
piness within the "unified family" is more harmful to the 
children than an open break would be — which teaches them 
at least that man is able to end an intolerable situation by 
a courageous decision. 

One other frequent error must be mentioned here. The 
illusion, namely, that love means necessarily the absence of 
conflict. Just as it is customary for people to believe that 
pain and sadness should be avoided under all circumstances, 


they believe that love means the absence of any conflict. And 
they find good reasons for this idea in the fact that the strug- 
gles around them seem only to be destructive interchanges 
which bring no good to either one of those concerned. But 
the reason for this lies in the fact that the "conflicts" of most 
people are actually attempts to avoid the real conflicts. They 
are disagreements on minor or superficial matters which by 
their very nature do not lend themselves to clarification or 
solution. Real conflicts between two people, those which do 
not serve to cover up or to project, but which are experi- 
enced on the deep level of inner reality to which they belong, 
are not destructive. They lead to clarification, they produce 
a catharsis from which both persons emerge with more 
knowledge and more strength. This leads us to emphasize 
again something said above. 

Love is possible only if two persons communicate with 
each other from the center of their existence, hence if each 
one of them experiences himself from the center of his exist- 
ence. Only in this "central experience" is human reality, 
only here is aliveness, only here is the basis for love. Love, 
experienced thus, is a constant challenge; it is not a resting 
place, but a moving, growing, working together ; even 
whether there is harmony or conflict, joy or sadness, is sec- 
ondary to the fundamental fact that two people experience 
themselves from the essence of their existence, that they are 
one with each other by being one with themselves, rather than 
by fleeing from themselves. There is only one proof for the 
presence of love: the depth of the relationship, and the alive- 
ness and strength in each person concerned; this is the fruit 
by which love is recognized. 


Just as automatons cannot love each other they cannot 
love God. The disintegration of the love of God has reached 
the same proportions as the disintegration of the love of man. 
This fact is in blatant contradiction to the idea that we are 
witnessing a religious renaissance in this epoch. Nothing 
could be further from the truth. What we witness (even 
though there are exceptions) is a regression to an idolatric 
concept of God, and a transformation of the love of God 
into a relationship fitting an alienated character structure. 
The regression to an idolatric concept of God is easy to see. 
People are anxious, without principles or faith, they find 
themselves without an aim except the one to move ahead; 
hence they continue to remain children, to hope for father 
or mother to come to their help when help is needed. 

True, in religious cultures, like that of the Middle Ages, 
the average man also looked at God as to a helping father 
and mother. But at the same time he took God seriously also, 
in the sense that the paramount goal of his life was to live ac- 
cording to God's principles, to make "salvation" the supreme 
concern to which all other activities were subordinated. To- 
day, nothing of such effort is present. Daily life is strictly 
separated from any religious values. It is devoted to the striv- 
ing for material comforts, and for success on the personality 
market. The principles on which our secular efforts are built 
are those of indifference and egotism (the latter often labeled 
as "individualism," or "individual initiative"). Man of truly 
religious cultures may be compared with children at the age 
of eight, who need father as a helper, but who begin to 
adopt his teachings and principles in their lives. Contempo- 
rary man is rather like a child of three, who cries for father 


when he needs him, and otherwise is quite self-sufficient 
when he can play. 

In this respect, in the infantile dependence on an anthro- 
pomorphic picture of God without the transformation of life 
according to the principles of God, we are closer to a primi- 
tive idolatric tribe than to the religious culture of the Middle 
Ages, In another respect our religious situation shows fea- 
tures which are new, and characteristic only of contemporary 
Western capitalistic society. I can refer to statements made 
in a previous part of this book. Modern man has transformed 
himself into a commodity; he experiences his life energy as 
an investment with which he should make the highest profit, 
considering his position and the situation on the personality 
market, He is alienated from himself, from his fellow men 
and from nature. His main aim is profitable exchange of his 
skills, knowledge, and of himself, his "personality package" 
with others who are equally intent on a fair and profitable 
exchange. Life has no goal except the one to move, no 
principle except the one of fair exchange, no satisfaction 
except the one to consume. 

What can the concept of God mean under these circum- 
stances? It is transformed from its original religious meaning 
into one fitting the alienated culture of success. In the reli- 
gious revival of recent times, the belief in God has been trans- 
formed into a psychological device to make one better fitted 
for the competitive struggle. 

Religion allies itself with auto-suggestion and psychother- 
apy to help man in his business activities. In the twenties 
one had not yet called upon God for purposes of "improving 
one's personality." The best-seller in the year 1938, Dale 


Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People, re- 
mained on a strictly secular level. What was the function of 
Carnegie's book at that time is the function of our greatest 
best-seller today, The Power of Positive Thinking by the 
Reverend N. V. Peale. In this religious book it is not even 
questioned whether our dominant concern with success is in 
itself in accordance with the spirit of monotheistic religion. 
On the contrary, this supreme aim is never doubted, but 
belief in God and prayer is recommended as a means to in- 
crease one's ability to be successful. Just as modern psychi- 
atrists recommend happiness of the employee, in order to be 
more appealing to the customers, some ministers recommend 
love of God in order to be more successful. "Make God your 
partner" means to make God a partner in business, rather 
than to become one with Him in love, justice and truth. Just 
as brotherly love has been replaced by impersonal fairness, 
God has been transformed into a remote General Director 
of Universe, Inc.; you know that he is there, he runs the 
show (although it would probably run without him too), 
you never see him, but you acknowledge his leadership while 
you are "doing your part." 


The Practice of Love 

HAVING dealt with the theoretical aspect of the art of 
loving, we now are confronted with a much more difficult 
problem, that of the practice of the art of loving. Can any- 
thing be learned about the practice of an art, except by 
practicing it? 

The difficulty of the problem is enhanced by the fact that 
most people today, hence many readers of this book, expect 
to be given prescriptions of "how to do it yourself," and that 
means in our case to be taught how to love. I am afraid 
that anyone who approaches this last chapter in this spirit 
will be gravely disappointed. To love is a personal experi- 
ence which everyone can only have by and for himself; in 
fact, there is hardly anybody who has not had this experi- 
ence in a rudimentary way, at least, as a child, an adolescent, 
an adult. What the discussion of the practice of love can do 
is to discuss the premises of the art of loving, the approaches 
to it as it were, and the practice of these premises and ap- 
proaches. The steps toward the goal can be practiced only 
by oneself, and discussion ends before the decisive step is 
taken. Yet, I believe that the discussion of the approaches 



may be helpful for the mastery of the art — for those at least 
who have freed themselves from expecting "prescriptions." 

The practice of any art has certain general requirements, 
quite regardless of whether we deal with the art of carpentry, 
medicine, or the art of love. First of all, the practice of an art 
requires discipline. I shall never be good at anything if I do 
not do it in a disciplined way; anything I do only if "I am 
in the mood" may be a nice or amusing hobby, but I shall 
never become a master in that art. But the problem is not 
only that of discipline in the practice of the particular art 
(say practicing every day a certain amount of hours) but it 
is that of discipline in one's whole life. One might think that~ 
nothing is easier to learn for modern man than discipline. 
Does he not spend eight hours a day in a most disciplined 
way at a job which is strictly routinized? The fact, however, 
is that modern man has exceedingly little self-discipline out- 
side of the sphere of work. When he does not work, he wants 
to be lazy, to slouch or, to use a nicer word, to "relax." This 
very wish for laziness is largely a reaction against the routini- 
zation of life. Just because man is forced for eight hours a 
day to spend his energy for purposes not his own, in ways 
not his own, but prescribed for him by the rhythm of the 
work, he rebels and his rebelliousness takes the form of an 
infantile self-indulgence. In addition, in the battle against 
authoritarianism he has become distrustful of all discipline, 
of that enforced by irrational authority, as well as of rational 
discipline imposed by himself. Without such discipline, how- 
ever, life becomes shattered, chaotic, and lacks in concentra- 

That concentration is a necessary condition for the mas*- 


tery of an art is hardly necessary to prove. Anyone who ever 
tried to learn an art knows this. Yet, even more than self- 
discipline, concentration is rare in our culture. On the con- 
trary, our culture leads to an unconcentrated and diffused 
mode of life, hardly paralleled anywhere else. You do many 
things at once; you read, listen to the radio, talk, smoke, 
eat, drink. You are the consumer with the open mouth, eager 
and ready to swallow everything — pictures, liquor, knowl- 
edge. This lack of concentration is clearly shown in our 
difficulty in being alone with ourselves. To sit still, without 
talking, smoking, reading, drinking, is impossible for most 
people. They become nervous and fidgety, and must do 
something with their mouth or their hands. (Smoking is one 
of the symptoms of this lack of concentration; it occupies 
hand, mouth, eye and nose. ) 

A third factor is patience. Again, anyone who ever tried 
to master an art knows that patience is necessary if you want 
to achieve anything. If one is after quick results, one never 
learns an art. Yet, for modern man, patience is as difficult to 
practice as discipline and concentration. Our whole indus- 
trial system fosters exactly the opposite: quickness. All our 
machines are designed for quickness: the car and airplane 
bring us quickly to our destination — and the quicker the 
better. The machine which can produce the same quantity 
in half the time is twice as good as the older and slower one. 
Of course, there are important economic reasons for this. 
But, as in so many other aspects, human values have become 
determined by economic values. What is good for machines 
must be good for man — so goes the logic. Modern man 
thinks he loses something — time — when he does not do 


things quickly; yet he does not know what to do with the 
time he gains — except kill it. 

Eventually, a condition of learning any art is a supreme 
concern with the mastery of the art. If the art is not some- 
thing of supreme importance, the apprentice will never learn 
it. He will remain, at best, a good dilettante, but will never 
become a master. This condition is as necessary for the art 
of loving as for any other art. It seems, though, as if the 
proportion between masters and dilettantes is more heavily 
weighted in favor of the dilettantes in the art of loving than 
is the case with other arts. 

One more point must be made with regard to the general 
conditions of learning an art. One does not begin to learn 
an art directly, but indirectly, as it were. One must learn a 
great number of other — and often seemingly disconnected 
things — before one starts with the art itself. An apprentice 
in carpentry begins by learning how to plane wood; an ap- 
prentice in the art of piano playing begins by practicing 
scales; an apprentice in the Zen art of archery begins by 
doing breathing exercises. 1 If one wants to become a master 
in any art, one's whole life must be devoted to it, or at 
least related to it. One's own person becomes an instrument 
in the practice of the art, and must be kept fit, according to 
the specific functions it has to fulfill. With regard to the art 
of loving, this means that anyone who aspires to become a 
master in this art must begin by practicing discipline, con- 
centration and patience throughout every phase of his life. 

1 For a picture of the concentration, discipline, patience and concern 
necessary for the learning of an art, I want to refer the reader to Z e n 
in the Art of Archery, by E. Herrigel, Pantheon Books, Inc., New York, 


How does one practice discipline? Our grandfathers would 
have been much better equipped to answer this question. 
Their recommendation was to get up early in the morning, 
not to indulge in unnecessary luxuries, to work hard. This 
type of discipline had obvious shortcomings. It was rigid and 
authoritarian, was centered around the virtues of frugality 
and saving, and in many ways was hostile to life. But in a re- 
action to this kind of discipline, there has been an increasing 
tendency to be suspicious of any discipline, and to make un- 
disciplined, lazy indulgence in the rest of one's life the coun- 
terpart and balance for the routinized way of life imposed 
on us during the eight hours of work. To get up at a regular 
hour, to devote a regular amount of time during the day to 
activities such as meditating, reading, listening to music, 
walking; not to indulge, at least not beyond a certain mini- 
mum, in escapist activities like mystery stories and movies, 
not to overeat or overdrink are some obvious and rudimen- 
tary rules. It is essential, however, that discipline should not 
be practiced like a rule imposed on oneself from the outside, 
but that it becomes an expression of one's own will; that it 
is felt as pleasant, and that one slowly accustoms oneself to 
a kind of behavior which one would eventually miss, if one 
stopped practicing it. It is one of the unfortunate aspects of 
our Western concept of discipline (as of every virtue) that 
its practice is supposed to be somewhat painful and only if 
it is painful can it be "good." The East has recognized long 
ago that that which is good for man — for his body and for 
his soul — must also be agreeable, even though at the be- 
ginning some resistances must be overcome. 

Concentration is by far more difficult to practice in our 


culture, in which everything seems to act against the ability 
to concentrate. The most important step in learning concen- 
tration is to learn to be alone with oneself without reading, 
listening to the radio, smoking or drinking. Indeed, to be 
able to concentrate means to be able to be alone with one- 
self — and this ability is precisely a condition for the ability to 
love. If I am attached to another person because I cannot 
stand on my own feet, he or she may be a lifesaver, but the 
relationship is not one of love. Paradoxically, the ability to 
be alone is the condition for the ability to love. Anyone who 
tries to be alone with himself will discover how difficult it is. 
He will begin to feel restless, fidgety, or even to sense con- 
siderable anxiety. He will be prone to rationalize his unwill- 
ingness to go on with this practice by thinking that it has no 
value, is just silly, that it takes too much time, and so on, 
and so on. He will also observe that all sorts of thoughts 
come to his mind which take possession of him. He will find 
himself thinking about his plans for later in the day, or 
about some difficulty in a job he has to do, or where to go 
in the evening, or about any number of things that will fill 
his mind — rather than permitting it to empty itself. It would 
be helpful to practice a few very simple exercises, as, for in- 
stance, to sit in a relaxed position (neither slouching, nor 
rigid) j to close one's eyes, and to try to see a white screen in 
front of one's eyes, and to try to remove all interfering pic- 
tures and thoughts, then to try to follow one's breathing; 
not to think about it, nor force it, but to follow it — and in 
doing so to sense it; furthermore to try to have a sense of 
"I" ; I = myself, as the center of my powers, as the creator 
of my world. One should, at least, do such a concentration 


exercise every morning for twenty minutes (and if possible 
longer) and every evening before going to bed. 2 

Besides such exercises, one must learn to be concentrated 
in everything one does, in listening to music, in reading a 
book, in talking to a person, in seeing a view. The activity at 
this very moment must be the only thing that matters, to 
which one is fully given. If one is concentrated, it matters 
little what one is doing; the important, as well as the un- 
important things assume a new dimension of reality, because 
they have one's full attention. To learn concentration re- 
quires avoiding, as far as possible, trivial conversation, that 
is, conversation which is not genuine. If two people talk 
about the growth of a tree they both know, or about the 
taste of the bread they have just eaten together, or about a 
common experience in their job, such conversation can be 
relevant, provided they experience what they are talking 
about, and do not deal with it in an abstractified way; on 
the other hand, a conversation can deal with matters of 
politics or religion and yet be trivial; this happens when the 
two people talk in cliches, when their hearts are not in what 
they are saying. I should add here that just as it is important 
to avoid trivial conversation, it is important to avoid bad 
company. By bad company I do not refer only to people 
who are vicious and destructive ; one should avoid their com- 

2 While there is a considerable amount of theory and practice on this 
point in the Eastern, especially the Indian cultures, similar aims have 
been followed in recent years also in the West. The most significant, in 
my opinion, is the school of Gindler, the aim of which is the sensing of 
one's body. For the understanding of the Gindler method, cf. also Char- 
lotte Selver's work, in her lectures and courses at the New School, in 
New York. 


pany because their orbit is poisonous and depressing. I mean 
also the company of zombies, of people whose soul is dead, 
although their body is alive; of people whose thoughts and 
conversation are trivial; who chatter instead of talk, and 
who assert cliche opinions instead of thinking. However, it 
is not always possible to avoid the company of such people, 
nor even necessary. If one does not react in the expected 
way — that is, in cliches and trivialities — but directly and 
humanly, one will often find that such people change their 
behavior, often helped by the surprise effected by the shock 
of the unexpected. 

To be concentrated in relation to others means primarily 
to be able to listen. Most people listen to others, or even give 
advice, without really listening. They do not take the other 
person's talk seriously, they do not take their own answers 
seriously either. As a result, the talk makes them tired. They 
are under the illusion that they would be even more tired 
if they listened with concentration. But the opposite is true. 
Any activity, if done in a concentrated fashion, makes one 
more awake (although afterward natural and beneficial 
tiredness sets in), while every unconcentrated activity makes 
one sleepy— while at the same time it makes it difficult to 
fall asleep at the end of the day. 

To be concentrated means to live fully in the present, in 
the here and now, and not to think of the next thing to be 
done, while I am doing something right now. Needless to 
say that concentration must be practiced most of all by 
people who love each other. They must learn to be close to 
each other without running away in the many ways in which 
this is customarily done. The beginning of the practice of 


concentration will be difficult; it will appear as if one could 
never achieve the aim. That this implies the necessity to have 
patience need hardly be said. If one does not know that 
everything has its time, and wants to force things, then in- 
deed one will never succeed in becoming concentrated — nor 
in the art of loving. To have an idea of what patience is one 
need only watch a child learning to walk. It falls, falls again, 
and falls again, and yet it goes on trying, improving, until 
one day it walks without falling. What could the grown-up 
person achieve if he had the child's patience and its con- 
centration in the pursuits which are important to him ! 

One cannot learn to concentrate without becoming sensi- 
tive to oneself. What does this mean? Should one think about 
oneself all the time, "analyze" oneself, or what? If we were 
to talk about being sensitive to a machine, there would be 
little difficulty in explaining what is meant. Anybody, for 
instance, who drives a car is sensitive to it. Even a small, 
unaccustomed noise is noticed, and so is a small change in 
the pickup of the motor. In the same way, the driver is sensi- 
tive to changes in the road surface, to movements of the cars 
before and behind him. Yet* he is not thinking about all 
these factors; his mind is in a state of relaxed alertness, open 
to all relevant changes in the situation on which he is con- 
centrated — that of driving his car safely. 

If we look at the situation of being sensitive to another 
human being, we find the most obvious example in the sen- 
sitiveness and responsiveness of a mother to her baby. She 
notices certain bodily changes, demands, anxieties, before 
they are overtly expressed. She wakes up because of her 
child's crying, where another and much louder sound would 


not waken her. All this means that she is sensitive to the 
manifestations of the child's life; she is not anxious or 
worried, but in a state of alert equilibrium, receptive to any 
significant communication coming from the child. In the 
same way one can be sensitive toward oneself. One is aware, 
for instance, of a sense of tiredness or depression, and instead 
of giving in to it and supporting it by depressive thoughts 
which are always at hand, one asks oneself "what hap- 
pened? 55 Why am I depressed? The same is done by noticing 
when one is irritated or angry, or tending to daydreaming, 
or other escape activities. In each of these instances the im- 
portant thing is to be aware of them, and not to rationalize 
them in the thousand and one ways in which this can be 
done; furthermore, to be open to our own inner voice, which 
will tell us — often rather immediately — why we are anxious, 
depressed, irritated. 

The average person has a sensitivity toward his bodily 
processes; he notices changes, or even small amounts of pain; 
this kind of bodily sensitivity is relatively easy to experience 
because most persons have an image of how it feels to be 
well. The same sensitivity toward one's mental processes is 
much more difficult, because many people have never known 
a person who functions optimally. They take the psychic 
functioning of their parents and relatives, or of the social 
group they have been born into, as the norm, and as long 
as they do not differ from these they feel normal and without 
interest in observing anything. There are many people, for 
instance, who have never seen a loving person, or a person 
with integrity, or courage, or concentration. It is quite 
obvious that in order to be sensitive to oneself, one has to 


have an image of complete, healthy human functioning — 
and how is one to acquire such an experience if one has not 
had it in one's own childhood, or later in life? There is cer- 
tainly no simple answer to this question; but the question 
points to one very critical factor in our educational system. 
While we teach knowledge, we are losing that teaching 
which is the most important one for human development: 
the teaching which can only be given by the simple presence 
of a mature, loving person. In previous epochs of our own 
culture, or in China and India, the man most highly valued 
was the person with outstanding spiritual qualities. Even 
the teacher was not only, or even primarily, a source of in- 
formation, but his function was to convey certain human 
attitudes. In contemporary capitalistic society — and the same 
holds true for Russian Communism — the men suggested for 
admiration and emulation are everything but bearers of 
significant spiritual qualities. Those are essentially in the 
public eye who give the average man a sense of vicarious 
satisfaction. Movie stars, radio entertainers, columnists, im- 
portant business or government figures — these are the models 
for emulation. Their main qualification for this function is 
often that they have succeeded in making the news. Yet, the 
situation does not seem to be altogether hopeless. If one con- 
siders the fact that a man like Albert Schweitzer could be- 
come famous in the United States, if one visualizes the many 
possibilities to make our youth familiar with living and his- 
torical personalities who show what human beings can 
achieve as human beings, and not as entertainers (in the 
broad sense of the word), if one thinks of the great works 
of literature and art of all ages, there seems to be a chance 


of creating a vision of good human functioning, and hence 
of sensitivity to malfunctioning. If we should not succeed in 
keeping alive a vision of mature life, then indeed we are 
confronted with the probability that our whole cultural tradi- 
tion will break down. This tradition is not primarily based 
on the transmission of certain kinds of knowledge, but of 
certain kinds of human traits. If the coming generations 
will not see these traits any more, a five-thousand-year-old 
culture will break down, even if its knowledge is transmitted 
and further developed. 

Thus far I have discussed what is needed for the practice 
of any art. Now I shall discuss those qualities which are of 
specific significance for the ability to love. According to what 
I said about the nature of love, the main condition for the 
achievement of love is the overcoming of one's narcissism. 
The narcissistic orientation is one in which one experiences 
as real only that which exists within oneself, while the 
phenomena in the outside world have no reality in them- 
selves, but are experienced only from the viewpoint of their 
being useful or dangerous to one. The opposite pole to nar- 
cissism is objectivity; it is the faculty to see people and things 
as they are, objectively, and to be able to separate this objec- 
tive picture from a picture which is formed by one's desires 
and fears. AH forms of psychosis show the inability to be 
objective, to an extreme degree. For the insane person the 
only reality that exists is that within him, that of his fears 
and desires. He sees the world outside as symbols of his inner 
world, as his creation. All of us do the same when we dream. 
In the dream we produce events, We stage dramas, which 
are the expression of our wishes and fears (although some- 


times also of our insights and judgment), and while we are 
asleep we are convinced that the product of our dreams is 
as real as the reality which we perceive in our waking state. 

The insane person or the dreamer fails completely in hav- 
ing an objective view of the world outside; but all of us are 
more or less insane, or more or less asleep; all of us have 
an unobjective view of the world, one which is distorted by 
our narcissistic orientation. Do I need to give examples? 
Anyone can find them easily by watching himself, his neigh- 
bors, and by reading the newspapers. They vary in the 
degree of the narcissistic distortion of reality. A woman, for 
instance, calls up the doctor, saying she wants to come to his 
office that same afternoon. The doctor answers that he is not 
free this same afternoon, but that he can see her the next 
day. Her answer is: But, doctor, I live only five minutes from 
your office. She cannot understand his explanation that it 
does not save him time that for her the distance is so short. 
She experiences the situation narcissistically: since she saves 
time, he saves times; the only reality to her is she herself. 

Less extreme— or perhaps only less obvious — are the dis- 
tortions which are commonplace in interpersonal relations. 
How many parents experience the child's reactions in terms 
of his being obedient, of giving them pleasure, of being a 
credit to them, and so forth, instead of perceiving or even 
being interested in what the child feels for and by himself? 
How many husbands have a picture of their wives as being 
domineering, because their own attachment to mother makes 
them interpret any demand as a restriction of their freedom? 
How many wives think their husbands are ineffective or 


stupid, because they do not live up to a phantasy picture of 
a shining knight which they might have built up as children? 

The lack of objectivity, as far as foreign nations are con- 
cerned, is notorious. From one day to another, another 
nation is made out to be utterly depraved and fiendish, while 
one's own nation stands for everything that is good and 
noble. Every action of the enemy is judged by one standard 
— every action of oneself by another. Even good deeds by 
the enemy are considered a sign of particular devilishness, 
meant to deceive us and the world, while our bad deeds are 
necessary and justified by our noble goals which they serve. 
Indeed, if one examines the relationship between nations, as 
well as between individuals, one comes to the conclusion that 
objectivity is the exception, and a greater or lesser degree of 
narcissistic distortion is the rule. 

The faculty to think objectively is reason; the emotional 
attitude behind reason is that of humility. To be objective, 
to use one's reason, is possible only if one has achieved an 
attitude of humility, if one has emerged from the dreams of 
omniscience and omnipotence which one has as a child. 

In terms of this discussion of the practice of the art of 
loving, this means: love being dependent on the relative 
absence of narcissism, it requires the development of humil- 
ity, objectivity and reason. One's whole life must be devoted 
to this aim. Humility and objectivity are indivisible, just as 
love is. I cannot be truly objective about my family if I 
cannot be objective about the stranger, and vice versa. If I 
want to learn the art of loving, I must strive for objectivity 
in every situation, and become sensitive to the situations 
where I am not objective. I must try to see the difference 


between my picture of a person and his behavior, as it is 
harcissistically distorted, and the person's reality as it exists 
regardless of my interests, needs and fears. To have acquired 
the capacity for objectivity and reason is half the road to 
achieving the art of loving, but it must be acquired with 
regard to everybody with whom one comes in contact. If 
someone would want to reserve his objectivity for the loved 
person, and think he can dispense with it in his relationship 
to the rest of the world, he will soon discover that he fails 
both here and there. 

The ability to love depends on one's capacity to emerge 
from narcissism, and from the incestuous fixation to mother 
and clan; it depends on our capacity to grow, to develop a 
productive orientation in our relationship toward the world 
and ourselves. This process of emergence, of birth, of wak- 
ing up, requires one quality as a necessary condition: faith. 
The practice of the art of loving requires the practice of faith. 

What is faith? Is faith necessarily a matter of belief in 
God, or in religious doctrines? Is faith by necessity in con- 
trast to, or divorced from, reason and rational thinking? 
Even to begin to understand the problem of faith one must 
differentiate between rational and irrational faith. By irra- 
tional faith I understand the belief (in a person or an idea) 
which is based on one's submission to irrational authority. 
In contrast, rational faith is a conviction which is rooted in 
one's own experience of thought or feeling. Rational faith is 
not primarily belief in something, but the quality of cer- 
tainty and firmness which our convictions have. Faith is a 
character trait pervading the whole personality, rather than 
a specific belief. 


Rational faith is rooted in productive intellectual and 
emotional activity. In rational thinking, in which faith is 
supposed to /have no place, rational faith is an important 
component. How does the scientist, for instance, arrive at a 
new discovery? Does he start with making experiment after 
experiment, gathering fact after fact, without having a 
vision of what he expects to find? Rarely has a truly im- 
portant discovery in any field been made in this way. Nor 
have people arrived at important conclusions when they 
were merely chasing a phantasy. The process of creative 
thinking in any field of human endeavor often starts with 
what may be called a "rational vision," itself a result of con- 
siderable previous study, reflective thinking, and observation. 
When the scientist succeeds in gathering enough data, or in 
working out a mathematical formulation to make his original 
vision highly plausible, he may be said to have arrived at a 
tentative hypothesis. A careful analysis of the hypothesis in 
order to discern its implications, and the amassing of data 
which support it, lead to a more adequate hypothesis and 
eventually perhaps to its inclusion in a wide-ranging theory. 

The history of science is replete with instances of faith in 
reason and visions of truth. Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, and 
Newton were all imbued with an unshakable faith in reason. 
For this Bruno was burned at the stake and Spinoza suffered 
excommunication. At every step from the conception of a 
rational vision to the formulation of a theory, faith is neces- 
sary: faith in the vision as a rationally valid aim to pursue, 
faith in the hypothesis as a likely and plausible proposition, 
and faith in the final theory, at least until a general con- 
sensus about its validity has been reached. This faith is 


rooted in one's own experience, in the confidence in one's 
power of thought, observation, and judgment. While irra- 
tional faith is the acceptance of something as true only 
because an authority or the majority say so, rational faith 
is rooted in an independent conviction based upon one's own 
productive observing and thinking, in spite of the majority's 

Thought and judgment are not the only realm of experi- 
ence in which rational faith is manifested. In the sphere of 
human relations, faith is an indispensable quality of any 
significant friendship or love. "Having faith" in another 
person means to be certain of the reliability and unchange- 
ability of his fundamental attitudes, of the core of his per- 
sonality, of his love. By this I do not mean that a person 
may not change his opinions, but that his basic motivations 
remain the same; that, for instance, his respect for life and 
human dignity is part of himself, not subject to change. 

In the same sense we have faith in ourselves. We are 
aware of the existence of a self, of a core in our personality 
which is unchangeable and which persists throughout our 
life in spite of varying circumstances, and regardless of 
certain changes in opinions and feelings. It is this core which 
is the reality behind the word "I," and on which our con- 
viction of our own identity is based. Unless we have faith in 
the persistence of our self, our feeling of identity is threatened 
and we become dependent on other people whose approval 
then becomes the basis for our feeling of identity. Only the 
person who has faith in himself is able to be faithful to 
others, because only he car* be sure that he will be the same 
at a future time as he is today and, therefore, that he will 


feel and act as he now expects to. Faith in oneself is a con- 
dition of our ability to promise, and since, as Nietzsche 
said, man can be defined by his capacity to promise, faith is 
one of the conditions of human existence. What matters in 
relation to love is the faith in one's own love; in its ability to 
produce love in others, and in its reliability. 

Another meaning of having faith in a person refers to the 
faith we have in the potentialities of others. The most rudi- 
mentary form in which this faith exists is the faith which 
the mother has toward her newborn baby: that it will live, 
grow, walk, and talk. However, the development of the child 
in this respect occurs with such regularity that the expecta- 
tion of it does not seem to require faith. It is different with 
those potentialities which can fail to develop: the child's 
potentialities to love, to be happy, to use his reason, and 
more specific potentialities like artistic gifts. They are the 
seeds which grow and become manifest if the proper condi- 
tions for their development are given, and they can be stifled 
if these are absent. 

One of the most important of these conditions is that the 
significant person in a child's life have faith in these poten- 
tialities. The presence of this faith makes the difference 
between education and manipulation. Education is identical 
with helping the child realize his potentialities. 3 The opposite 
o£ education is manipulation, which is based on the absence 
of faith in the growth of potentialities, and on the convic- 
tion that a child will be right only if the adults put into him 
what is desirable and suppress what seems to be undesirable. 

8 The root of the word education is e-ducere, literally, to lead forth, 
or to bring out something which is potentially present. 


There is no need of faith in the robot, since there is no life 
in it either* 

The faith in others has its culmination in faith in man- 
kind. In the Western world this faith was expressed in re- 
ligious terms in the Judaeo-Christian religion, and in secular 
language it has found its strongest expression in the humanis- 
tic political and social ideas of the last hundred and fifty 
years. Like the faith in the child, it is based on the idea that 
the potentialities of man are such that given the proper con- 
ditions he will be capable of building a social order governed 
by the principles of equality, justice and love. Man has not 
yet achieved the building of such an order, and therefore the 
conviction that he can do so requires faith. But like all ra- 
tional faith this too is not wishful thinking, but based upon 
the evidence of the past achievements of the human race 
and on the inner experience of each individual, on his own 
experience of reason and love. 

While irrational faith is rooted in submission to a power 
which is felt to be overwhelmingly strong, omniscient and 
omnipotent, and in the abdication of one's own power and 
strength, rational faith is based upon the opposite experi- 
ence. We have this faith in a thought because it is the result 
of our own observation and thinking. We have faith in the 
potentialities of others, of ourselves, and of mankind because, 
and only to the degree to which, we have experienced the 
growth of our own potentialities, the reality of growth in 
ourselves, the strength of our own power of reason and of 
love. The basis of rational faith is productiveness; to live by 
our faith means to live productively. It follows that the belief 
in power (in the sense of domination) and the use of power 


are the reverse of faith. To believe in power that exists is 
identical with disbelief in the growth of potentialities which 
are as yet unrealized. It is a prediction of the future based 
solely on the manifest present; but it turns out to be a grave 
miscalculation, profoundly irrational in its oversight of the 
human potentialities and human growth. There is no rational 
faith in power. There is submission to it or, on the part of 
those who have it, the wish to keep it. While to many power 
seems to be the most real of all things, the history of man 
has proved it to be the most unstable of all human achieve- 
ments. Because of the fact that faith and power are mutually 
exclusive, all religions and political systems which originally 
are built on rational faith become corrupt and eventually 
lose what strength they have, if they rely on power or ally 
themselves with it. 

To have faith requires courage, the ability to take a risk, 
the readiness even to accept pain and disappointment. Who- 
ever insists on safety and security as primary conditions of 
life cannot have faith; whoever shuts himself off in a system 
of defense, where distance and possession are his means of 
security, makes himself a prisoner. To be loved, and to love, 
need courage, the courage to judge certain values as of 
ultimate concern — and to take the jump and stake every- 
thing on these values. 

This courage is very different from the courage of which 
that famous braggart Mussolini spoke when he used the 
slogan "to live dangerously." His kind of courage is the 
courage of nihilism. It is rooted in a destructive attitude 
toward life, in the willingness to throw away life because one 
is incapable of loving it. The courage of despair is the op- 


posite of the courage of love, just as the faith in power is 
the opposite of the faith in life. 

Is there anything to be practiced about faith and courage? 
Indeed, faith can be practiced at every moment. It takes 
faith to bring up a child; it takes faith to fall asleep; it takes 
faith to begin any work. But we all are accustomed to hav- 
ing this kind of faith. Whoever does not have it suffers from 
overanxiety about his child, or from insomnia, or from the 
inability to do any kind of productive work; or he is sus- 
picious, restrained from being close to anybody, or hypo- 
chondriacal, or unable to make any long-range plans. To 
stick to one's judgment about a person even if public opinion 
or some unforeseen facts seem to invalidate it, to stick to 
one's convictions even though they are unpopular — all this 
requires faith and courage. To take the difficulties, setbacks 
and sorrows of life as a challenge which to overcome makes 
us stronger, rather than as unjust punishment which should 
not happen to us, requires faith and courage. 

The practice of faith and courage begins with the small 
details of daily life. The first step is to notice where and when 
one loses faith, to look through the rationalizations which 
are used to cover up this loss of faith, to recognize where 
one acts in a cowardly way, and again how one rationalizes 
it. To recognize how every betrayal of faith weakens one, 
and how increased weakness leads to new betrayal, and so 
on, in a vicious circle. Then one will also recognize that 
while one is consciously afraid of not being loved, the real, 
though usually unconscious fear is that of loving. To love 
means to commit oneself without guarantee, to give oneself 
completely in the hope that our love will produce love in the 


loved person. Love is an act of faith, and whoever is of little 
faith is also of little love. Can one say more about the prac- 
tice of faith? Someone else might; if I were a poet or a 
preacher, I might try. But since I am not either of these, I 
cannot even try to say more about the practice of faith, but 
am sure that anyone who is really concerned can learn to 
have faith as a child learns to walk. 

One attitude, indispensable for the practice of the art of 
loving, which thus far has been mentioned only implicitly 
should be discussed explicitly since it is basic for the practice 
of love: activity, I have said before that by activity is not 
meant "doing something/ 5 but an inner activity, the produc- 
tive use of one's powers. Love is an activity; if I love, I am in 
a constant state of active concern with the loved person, but 
not only with him or her. For I shall become incapable of re- 
lating myself actively to the loved person if I am lazy, if I am 
not in a constant state of awareness, alertness, activity. Sleep 
is the only proper situation for inactivity; the state of awake- 
ness is one in which laziness should have no place. The para- 
doxical situation with a vast number of people today is that 
they are half asleep when awake, and half awake when asleep, 
or when they want to sleep. To be fully awake is the condi- 
tion for not being bored, or being boring — and indeed, not to 
be bored or boring is one of the main conditions for loving. 
To be active in thought, feeling, with one's eyes and ears, 
throughout the day, to avoid inner laziness, be it in the form 
of being receptive, hoarding, or plain wasting one's time, 
is an indispensable condition for the practice of the art of 
loving. It is an illusion to believe that one can separate life 
in such a way that one is productive in the sphere of love 


and unproductive in all other spheres. Productiveness does 
not permit of such a division of labor. The capacity to love 
demands a state of intensity, awakeness, enhanced vitality, 
which can only be the result of a productive and active 
orientation in many other spheres of life. If one is not pro- 
ductive in other spheres, one is not productive in love either. 

The discussion of the art of loving cannot be restricted to 
the personal realm of acquiring and developing those char- 
acteristics and attitudes which have been described in this 
chapter. It is inseparably connected with the social realm. 
If to love means to have a loving attitude toward everybody, 
if love is a character trait, it must necessarily exist in one's 
relationship not only with one's family and friends, but 
toward those with whom one is in contact through one's 
work, business, profession. There is no "division of labor" 
between love for one's own and love for strangers. On the 
contrary, the condition for the existence of the former is the 
existence of the latter. To take this insight seriously means 
indeed a rather drastic change in one's social relations from 
the customary ones. While a great deal of lip service is paid 
to the religious ideal of love of one's neighbor, our relations 
are actually determined, at their best, by the principle of fair- 
ness. Fairness meaning not to use fraud and trickery in the 
exchange of commodities' and services, and in the exchange 
of feelings. "I give you as much as you give me," in material 
goods as well as in love, is the prevalent ethical maxim in 
capitalist society. It may even be said that the development 
of fairness ethics is the particular ethical contribution of 
capitalist society. 

The reasons for this fact lie in the very nature of capitalist 


society. In pre-capitalist societies, the exchange of goods was 
determined either by direct force, by tradition, or by per- 
sonal bonds of love or friendship. In capitalism, the all-deter- 
mining factor is the exchange on the market. Whether we 
deal with the commodity market, the labor market, or the 
market of services, each person exchanges whatever he has 
to sell for that which he wants to acquire under the condi- 
tions of the market, without the use of force or fraud. 

Fairness ethics lend themselves to confusion with the ethics 
of the Golden Rule. The maxim "to do unto others as you 
would like them to do unto you" can be interpreted as 
meaning "be fair in your exchange with others." But actu- 
ally, it was formulated originally as a more popular version 
of the Biblical "Love thy neighbor as thyself." Indeed, 
the Jewish-Christian norm of brotherly love is entirely dif- 
ferent from fairness ethics. It means to love your neighbor, 
that is, to feel responsible for and one with him, while fair- 
ness ethics means not to feel responsible, and one, but distant 
and separate; it means to respect the rights of your neighbor, 
but not to love him. It is no accident that the Golden Rule 
has become the most popular religious maxim today; because 
it can be interpreted in terms of fairness ethics it is the one 
religious maxim which everybody understands and is willing 
to practice. But the practice of love must begin with recog- 
nizing the difference between fairness and love. 

Here, however, an important question arises. If our whole 
social and economic organization is based on each one seek- 
ing his own advantage, if it is governed by the principle of 
egotism tempered only by the ethical principle of fairness, 
how can one do business, how can one act within the frame- 


work of existing society and at the same time practice love? 
Does the latter not imply giving up all one's secular concerns 
and sharing the life of the poorest? This question has been 
raised and answered in a radical way by the Christian monks, 
and by persons like Tolstoi, Albert Schweitzer, and Simone 
Weil. There are others 4 who share the opinion of the basic 
incompatibility between love and normal secular life within 
our society. They arrive at the result that to speak of love 
today means only to participate in the general fraud; they 
claim that only a martyr or a mad person can love in the 
world of today, hence that all discussion of love is nothing 
but preaching. This very respectable viewpoint lends itself 
readily to a rationalization of cynicism. Actually it is shared 
implicitly by the average person who feels "I would like to 
be a good Christian — but I would have to starve if I meant 
it seriously." This "radicalism" results in moral nihilism. 
Both the "radical thinkers" and the average person are un- 
loving automatons and the only difference between them is 
that the latter is not aware of it, while the former knows it 
and recognizes the "historical necessity" of this fact. 

I am of the conviction that the answer of the absolute in- 
compatibility of love and "normal" life is correct only in an 
abstract sense. The principle underlying capitalistic society 
and the principle of love are incompatible. But modern so- 
ciety seen concretely is a complex phenomenon. A salesman 
of a useless commodity, for instance, cannot function eco- 
nomically without lying; a skilled worker, a chemist, or a 
physician can. Similarly, a farmer, a worker, a teacher, 

4 Cf. Herbert Marcuse's article "The Social Implications of Psycho- 
analytic Revisionism," Dissent, New York, summer, 1955. 


and many a type of businessman can try to practice love 
without ceasing to function economically. Even if one recog- 
nizes the principle of capitalism as being incompatible with 
the principle of love, one must admit that "capitalism" is in 
itself a complex and constantly changing structure which 
still permits of a good deal of non-conformity and of per- 
sonal latitude. 

In saying this, however, I do not wish to imply that we 
can expect the present social system to continue indefinitely, 
and at the same time to hope for the realization of the ideal 
of love for one's brother. People capable of love, under the 
present system, are necessarily the exceptions; love is by 
necessity a marginal phenomenon in present-day Western 
society. Not so much because many occupations would not 
permit of a loving attitude, but because the spirit of a pro- 
duction-centered, commodity-greedy society is such that only 
the non-conformist can defend himself successfully against 
it. Those who are seriously concerned with love as the only 
rational answer to the problem of human existence must, 
then, arrive at the conclusion that important and radical 
changes in our social structure are necessary, if love is to 
become a social and not a highly individualistic, marginal 
phenomenon. The direction of such changes can, within the 
scope of this book, only be hinted at. 5 Our society is run by 
a managerial bureaucracy, by professional politicians; people 
are motivated by mass suggestion, their aim is producing 
more and consuming more, as purposes in themselves. All 
activities are subordinated to economic goals, means have 

5 In The Sane Society, Rinehart & Company, New York, 1955, I 
have tried to deal with this problem in detail. 


become ends; man is an automaton — well fed, well clad, but 
without any ultimate concern for that which is his peculiarly 
human quality and function. If man is to be able to love, he 
must be put in his supreme place. The economic machine 
must serve him, rather than he serve it. He must be enabled 
to share experience, to share work, rather than, at best, share 
in profits. Society must be organized in such a way that 
man's social, loving nature is not separated from his social 
existence, but becomes one with it. If it is true, as I have 
tried to show, that love is the only sane and satisfactory 
answer to the problem of human existence, then any society 
which excludes, relatively, the development of love, must in 
the long run perish of its own contradiction with the basic 
necessities of human nature. Indeed, to speak of love is not 
"preaching," for the simple reason that it means to speak 
of the ultimate and real need in every human being. That 
this need has been obscured does not mean that it does not 
exist. To analyze the nature of love is to discover its gen- 
eral absence today and to criticize the social conditions which 
are responsible for this absence. To have faith in the possi- 
bility of love as a social and not only exceptional-individual 
phenomenon, is a rational faith based on the insight into the 
very nature of man.